A powerful second-half display saw Glasgow Warriors earn a first away win of the 2022/23 season in Italy this afternoon, running in six tries to claim a 45-17 victory over hosts Zebre Parma.
Johnny Matthews grabbed himself a brace off the bench, with Sintu Manjezi and Domingo Miotti each scoring their first tries for the club in amongst the Glasgow scorers.
In challenging conditions, a breathless start saw both sides look to play at a high tempo. Kyle Steyn in particular was looking lively, chasing kicks from Ollie Smith and Tom Jordan as the Warriors looked to turn the opposition defence.
Yet it would be the hosts who would fire the first shot, as the Zebre maul proved problematic for the Glasgow defence. Only an illegal intervention from Matt Fagerson could prevent an opening try on 10 minutes, the number eight earning a yellow card for his troubles.
The hosts would eventually make the most of their extra man, after repeatedly banging on the Glasgow door. After Steyn and Manjezi had each denied a Zebre dart for the line, Geronimo Prisciantelli’s cross-kick would sit up kindly for Pierre Bruno to allow the winger to dive over. Prisciantelli added the extras, and Zebre had a 7-0 lead after 20 minutes.
It would be a lead that would last all of 90 seconds, however, as the Warriors hit straight back. Chris Cook would take too long at the breakdown, his box-kick being read and charged down by the onrushing Manjezi. The second-rower showed good composure to regather before diving over for the score, George Horne converting to level the scores.
With conditions worsening, it would perhaps be no surprise that the remainder of the half would become a scrappy affair, Sebastian Cancelliere’s breakaway the closest either team would come to crossing the whitewash. As it was, Horne’s penalty on the stroke of half-time would give the Warriors an advantage belying the possession stats at the interval, knocking over a kick from 15 metres for a 10-7 lead.
Where the first half had been an even and scrappy affair, the Warriors stamped their authority from the outset as the second half got underway. Horne’s tactical kicking and a dogged kick-chase led by Steyn and Cancelliere would get the Warriors into position, forcing a penalty dispatched to touch by Smith.
It would be from the resulting lineout that the Warriors would strike; having worked their way into centre-field in the Zebre 22, a clever switch of play from Horne sent Steyn steaming a gap. The skipper simply had to draw the last man before sending Cancelliere over for the score, Horne adding the extras to make it a 10-point lead.
Almost immediately, the Warriors were over again. Horne’s box-kick saw Steyn set off in pursuit, forcing an error from Bruno as he leapt to claim the high ball. Instead, the ball would land in the arms of Stafford McDowall, the centre racing over untouched from 35 metres. Once more Horne would add the extras, and Glasgow had a 24-7 lead with 50 minutes on the clock.
As the rain continued to fall, the Glasgow bench would make their presence known. Jamie Bhatti’s physicality at the scrum would see the Warriors get the upper hand at the set-piece, whilst Matthews and Lewis Bean would raise the energy levels in both the tight and loose.
The Warriors wanted a bonus-point, and it would be one that would be forthcoming with twelve minutes remaining. A penalty kicked to touch in the 22 would see a rolling maul take play to within five metres, before a barrage of close-range carriers including McDowall and Bean would get ever-closer. It would be Matthews who would apply the finish, diving over for a score that – allied to Horne’s conversion – would give his side a 31-7 lead.
Zebre would continue to apply pressure of their own, and were rewarded just moments later with a maul of their own. Jacques du Toit would be the man to emerge with the ball after a powerful drive, Prisciantelli’s conversion attempt drifting wide.
Once more, though, Glasgow’s response was swift. Another surge from the pack would see Matthews stopped five metres out, before replacement scrum-half Jamie Dobie spotted the gap on the blindside. Manjezi’s soft pass sent Domingo Miotti over in the corner for his first try for the club, Horne adding the extras superbly from the touchline.
The hosts weren’t going down without a fight, though, and took full advantage of a penalty from the restart to grab their third try of the afternoon. Du Toit would again be the man to dive over after some confusion at the maul, the conversion pulled wide by Lorenzo Pani with 90 seconds to play.
Yet the last word would belong to the Warriors. With the clock in the red, Miotti’s boot saw a penalty kicked to within seven metres, before Glasgow turned to the power game. Matthews’ throw would find Bean at the top of his jump, before Matthews would smuggle himself away at the back of the maul to score the final try of a frantic final 10 minutes. Horne would keep his 100% record intact by adding the conversion, taking the final score to 45-17 in his side’s favour.