Benetton 33-11 Glasgow: Franco Smith era off to dismal start as Warriors well beaten in Treviso
A new season invariably engenders a sense of optimism in a team. A new coach tends to have a similar effect. But there was no sign whatsoever of any spring in Glasgow’s step as they got their URC campaign off to a dismal start in Treviso.
There were some extenuating circumstances to the defeat in the Stadio Monigo. After just one pre-season outing against the semi-professional Ayrshire Bulls, at least some members of Franco Smith’s side were always going to be somewhat undercooked for the new boss’ competitive debut. And, given Smith’s chat about the need for hard work and heavy training sessions, perhaps other members of the squad went into last night’s game a little fatigued.
Either way, the result was a dispirited performance in which the Warriors showed little energy and even less sign of the attacking verve that was once the hallmark of their play. They did enjoy one fleeting purple patch in the second half, when Zander Fagerson barged through the defence for a try and Sebastian Cancelliere almost added the second after a kick and chase. But by that time, Benetton were well on top - and well on the way to the bonus point which they eventually secured with the last play of the game.
Glasgow had been forced into a change a few hours before kick-off when hooker Fraser Brown failed a fitness test because of illness. Johnny Matthews replaced him in the front row, while George Turner was drafted on to the bench. However, that alteration in no way accounted for the lacklustre way in which they went on to play.
Rhyno Smith and George Horne exchanged penalties early on, then with 25 minutes gone a fumble by the Warriors led to Benetton’s first try. Winger Edoardo Padovani finished off on the right after a long pass from Giacomo Da Re, whose conversion attempt hit a post.
Benetton stretched their lead through an unconverted Gianmarco Lucchesi try from a lineout drive, but in time added on, Horne knocked over a second penalty from in front of the posts to give the Warriors a glimmer of hope going into the second half.
A few minutes after the restart, however, Benetton struck again, with Ignacio Mendy getting their third try after a break up the blindside. Smith added the two points this time to take his team’s tally to 20, then was on target with two more penalties to take the lead beyond two full scores.
Glasgow needed to hit back quickly to have any chance of a comeback, and right on the hour mark Fagerson bulldozed his way over to claim his team’s first try. Tom Jordan’s conversion attempt was just wide.
Former Edinburgh and Scotland scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne came off the bench for his Benetton debut as the Italian team rang the changes and slowed play down. Warriors winger Cancelliere briefly sped things up with two kicks ahead, but the second carried too far and went over the dead-ball line before he could touch it down.
Mendy made no such mistake in the last minute, booting on a loose ball and touching down unopposed to secure the bonus point for his team. Smith converted to complete a miserable evening for the visitors.
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