GLASGOW WARRIORS 29 BENETTON TREVISO 10
Three quick tries set up Glasgow but Townsend keen to iron out the ‘sloppy moments’
GLASGOW WARRIORS 29 BENETTON TREVISO 10
GLASGOW finally claimed the full house of points that has proved so elusive this season, picking up their first try-bonus of the campaign and edging themselves into a RaboDirect play-off position as they did so.
The win propelled Gregor Townsend’s side into fourth place in the PRO12 table, four points better than Ospreys and still with a game in hand. Two difficult weekends lie in store as they take on Munster and Ulster, and even in victory the coach understood that some tightening up will be required after what was still a far from flawless performance.
“There were s o me sloppy moments,” Townsend admitted. “We were really disappointed with the try we gave away, but I was very pleased with the way we kept Treviso out in the second half and stopped them scoring any points. But it’s an important win, five points, and that puts us in the mix. We work hard every week to improve on what we did the week before. We are up against a quality side next weekend because Munster have been the form team in Europe all season.”
Almost unnoticed, the result also clinched Glasgow’s own place in Europe next season, as they are now too far ahead of Edinburgh for the capital side to overtake them before the end of the season.
Townsend singled out Finn Russell and Sean Maitland for praise, both players showing improbable surefootedness and pace on a surface that was not hugely better than it was when the game was originally cancelled back in December.
The most marked difference between the Glasgow team of this season and the one that thrilled the Scotstoun crowd in the last campaign has been their inability to harvest tries in any great number. Yet that pattern was turned on its head as the Warriors set off at a breakneck pace that saw them cross the Italians’ line three times in the first 15 minutes.
It helped, of course, that some of Treviso’s tackling was truly execrable, but you could hardly fault the ambition of the Glasgow players. They had their first score on the board after barely a minute of play, Henry Pyrgos racing over after a powerful surge by the forwards and a marvellous break by Maitland, and the surge of confidence was evident as they played with levels of pace and ambition that have been seen only very rarely this season.
At times it was just too loose, and Glasgow paid the price with a moment of critical inattention that allowed Angelo Esposito, the Treviso wing, to split their defensive line and put centre Alberto Sgarbi through for a try in the 12th minute.
By then, though, Glasgow had already collected their own second. It came when Ruaridh Jackson shipped the ball to Mark Bennett and the centre blasted through three tackles on a thrilling diagonal run from the the right side. Bennett cut in and found Niko Matawalu arriving just at the right moment, and the Fijian finished the job.
Glasgow’s third try came two minutes after Sgarbi’s effort, and it was Pyrgos who was again the scorer, the position created when Maitland made a dart down the right touchline, Rob Harley providing the link when he offloaded to the scrum-half.
Treviso were not for running up the white flag, however. Over the next 15 minutes they had three penalty chances to chip away at Glasgow’s lead, and the Warriors could consider themselves fortunate that scrumhalf Tobias Botes could convert only one of them. Glasgow did seem to steady their ship a little towards the end of the first half, but they could not move their scoreline on and they were still stuck at 19-10 when the interval arrived.
That situation was remedied shortly after the break, although not with the fourth try that they and their supporters craved. A touch- down certainly seemed to be imminent when Glasgow pounded away at the Treviso line, but when their reward came it arrived in the shape of a penalty by Russell.
Glasgow brought fresh blood into their pack when Jerry Yanuyanutawa and Leone Nakarawa replaced Gordon Reid and Al Kellock around the 50-minute mark. The effect was immediate, for the home forwards stole a vital turnover near halfway, Russell set off on a bold break and Maitland, who had looked eager all evening, finished off by diving over near the right corner.
With that cushion finally established, Townsend could afford to throw on a few more replacements, and none received a louder roar of approval from the stands than Peter Horne, making his first apperance for Glasgow since he suffered his serious knee injury on Scotland’s trip to South Africa last summer.
Horne took over from Jackson, but he actually slotted in at inside centre, with Russell, who was named man of the match, moving to fly-half. There was not much left for Glasgow to do after that, and they could hardly be faulted for easing off in attack.
What was impressive, though, was their determination to keep their line intact. Over the next few weeks, that aspect of their game might be more important than any other.
HEADACHE: Glasgow substitute Leone Nakarawa receives a face-high tackle last night.
LET’S SCRAP: Glasgow’s Ryan Wilson proves the centre of attention for several Treviso players.
GOING DOWN: Niko Matawalu charges across the line to score Warriors’ second try.