Tough conditions can bring out the best in quality sides, and Glasgow certainly gave glimpses of how good they can be in their 31-7 win over Zebre in Parma on Saturday. A heavy pitch and a greasy ball made creative play difficult, but the Warriors showed some vintage touches in the first half before wrapping up the try bonus with more than half an hour to spare.
“I thought we were really good in the first half,” was the verdict of head coach Dave Rennie. “We were accurate and applied a lot of pressure and got rewarded on the scoreboard. We scored some really good tries in really difficult conditions.
“I thought our discipline was average and we gave away too many penalties in the second half. [But] it’s not easy to play here and we’re very happy to walk away with a bonus-point win.”
In a closer game against tougher opponents, Glasgow might have been punished for that slack second-half spell to which Rennie referred, and for some erratic if inventive aerial kicks by Adam Hastings that were designed for his wingers to run on to but were sometimes no more than 50-50 balls. On balance, though, a five-try away win in the league has to be seen as sound preparation for the Champions Cup, which begins on Saturday when Sale Sharks visit Scotstoun.
“It was a bit sloppier than we would have liked it to be, but I think the boys dug in really well,” said Hastings, who scored one of those five and converted three. “Zebre are a side that stay in the game really well and are really passionate, and I think that tested our mettle when they scored and I think we did well.
“It was a tough place to come and play, especially in those conditions. It sounds a cliche, but the rest of the team made me look good, chasing those kicks and turning some bad ones into good-looking ones. I thought the forwards were superb, and the rest of the back line, and when we needed to be we were accurate.”
Hastings was named man of the match, but it was scrum-half George Horne who starred early on, scoring his team’s first two tries - the opener from a tapped penalty, the second off first phase from a lineout. The stand-off then got in on the act just before the break, gliding through a pedestrian defence after a remorseless drive from the pack.
Hastings turned provider to put Ratu Tagive through for the fourth score, and when Johan Meyer was dismissed for foul play with 25 minutes to go, that might have been the signal for a Zebre collapse, and for Glasgow to go in search of the half-century they ran up a week earlier against the Southern Kings. Instead, the home side fought back and claimed a try through substitute Pierre Bruno, converted by Carlo Canna, before the Warriors shook off their somnolence and rounded off the scoring with a Nick Frisby try.