GLASGOW surged to the summit of the Guinness Pro12 table with an eight-try demolition of a hapless Zebre side who demonstrated a suicidal inability to produce any kind of structured defence.
Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: Horne (2) van der Merwe, Murchie (2), Swinson, Lyle, Bordill. Cons: Horne (5). Braid (2). Zebre: Try: Cristiano: Con: Orquera. Pen: Orquera.
Yet the old adage that ‘you can only play what is in front of you’ was clearly taken to heart by the Warriors whose appetite for destruction was ravenous almost from the first shrill blast of referee Leo Cullen’s whistle.
Released from Scotland service only on Saturday morning, Peter Horne made the most of his opportunity at No 10 to deliver a performance of some panache and two fine tries. The former Howe of Fife favourite’s first touchdown after just five minutes marked the beginning of a horrific afternoon for the Italian side who remain rooted to the foot of the Pro12 table.
Head coach Gregor Townsend was naturally delighted his side had made the most of their opportunity to go top. “Zebre made life very difficult initially, they committed a lot of men to rucks and they were powerful in the scrum and competitive in the lineout,” he said.
“Although our concentration and consistency needs to be better over 80 minutes it was a great result for us in that we made the most of Ospreys’ defeat at Edinburgh. We had a lot of fine contributions but for Peter Horne to return to us 24 hours before kick-off and with no preparation contribute two fine tries and kick so well was pleasing.”
Token Italian resistance was registered through a Luciano Orquera penalty but with Zebre’s determination to run the ball from the most pressured positions inviting punishment, DTH van der Merwe intercepted a forced Mirco Bergamasco pass to claim Warriors’ second try and once again Horne converted. Glasgow’s Sunday saunter towards a bonus-point triumph was temporarily interrupted when Filippo Cristiano smothered a sloppy Horne kick to touch down, with Orquera converting to reduce the deficit to 14-10.
But before the game reached its first quarter Peter Murchie burst two half-hearted tackles to surge over and two tries in the final three first-half minutes by Horne and Tim Swinson claimed the bonus point as Horne converted two from these three touchdowns to send Glasgow in at the interval 33-10 in front.
It was perhaps no surprise the pyrotechnics of the first period were not repeated, as Zebre tried to shut up shop.
Indeed the yellow cards administered to Alex Allan and Niko Matawalu for minor transgressions seemed almost irrelevant as three further post-break tries by Fraser Lyle, who marked an impressive debut with a powerful performance of strong running at inside centre, Murchie and Will Bordill applied the coup de grace against a hapless Italian side who have now conceded a staggering 43 tries in Pro12 competition this term.
Zebre: H Daniller, D Berryman, T Iannone, M Bergamasco, (M, Pratichetti, 41) G Toniolatti (M Pratichetti, 21-30) L Orquera, B Leonard (A Chillon, 66), A Lovotti (A De Marchi, 42) O Fabiani (L Ferraro, 59), L Redolfini (L Leibson, 46), A Mahu, A Cavalieri (F Ruzza, 41) V Bernabo, F Cristiano, J Sarto. Replacements: R Riccioli, E Padovani.
Glasgow: P Murchie, L Jones (R Hughes, 62) R Vernon, F Lyle, DTH van der Merwe, P Horne (C Briad, 65) N Matawalu (A Price, 62), A Allan (J Yanuyanutawa, 58), P MacArthur (K Bryce, 58), M Cusack (R de Klerk, 48),T Swinson, A Kellock (capt) (W Bordill, 48), J Eddie (J Yanuyanutawa, 31-42) T Holmes (J Strauss, 48) L Nakarawa.
Referee: L Cullen (Ireland)