At times this season Glasgow have seemed sorely lacking in leadership, but they had that quality and many others in abundance as they claimed a potentially valuable victory at Treviso’s Stadio Monigo.
With five defeats in their previous nine Pro14 matches, this was pretty much a must-win for the Warriors in their hunt for a play-off place, and they went about their task with a real sense of urgency, racing into a 12-point lead in as many minutes. It was far from plain sailing after that as Benetton twice fought back to close to within seven points, and two late tries from the Warriors gave the final score a flattering look, but Dave Rennie’s side were well deserving of the bonus-point win.
George and Pete Horne were joint orchestrators of the midfield, with the scrum-half claiming two tries and elder brother Pete adding a try and four conversions. The other tries came from Sam Johnson, Niko Matawalu and Andrew Davidson, but arguably the most impressive performances came from two non-scorers: Bruce Flockhart, whose dynamic play in the loose caused Benetton greater problems the longer the game went on, and Petrus du Plessis, who came off the bench to shore up a scrum that had been under heavy pressure.
That pressure led just before half-time to the sin-binning of Aki Seiuli, and the Warriors conceded a score straight after going down to 14 men. But, in a critical passage of play right after half-time, they held Benetton up over their own line, and although much work remained to be done from that point, the successful defence gave the visitors extra confidence in attack.
“I thought we started pretty well, then got under pressure near half-time and lost Aki to the bin, but we’re really rapt,” was the verdict of Dave Rennie. “It was a great performance from a lot of young men, and getting five points over here is not an easy thing to do.”
Nick Grigg is a major doubt for next week’s Champions Cup match against Exeter after being concussed in an accidental clash of heads with Cherif Traore. That mishap apart, however, the Warriors will go into the game against the Chiefs in a far happier state of mind than they were in after losing to Edinburgh eight days ago.
Their determination to get this one right was evident from the opening minutes, when Johnson gave them the lead and the winger then combined with George Horne to put Pete, below, through. Benetton got off the mark midway through the half when hooker Hame Faiva scored from a maul.
After half an hour, George Horne was the finisher, but the home side had the last word in the first 40, with Braam Steyn forcing his way over and Tommaso Allan converting.
However Warriors stretched their lead after the restart when Flockhart burst through two tackles and sent George Horne racing in for the bonus-point try. Benetton cast the outcome back in doubt when Antonio Rizzi scored but Glasgow reasserted themselves in the final few minutes.
After Rizzi was brought to ground behind his own line by Huw Jones, Matawalu eventually scored from the scrum five, and Davidson wrapped things up with an interception try two minutes from time.