Glasgow 29-10 Treviso: Warriors win to go fourth

Warriors centre Mark Bennett looks to release the ball as he's tackled. Picture: SNS
Warriors centre Mark Bennett looks to release the ball as he's tackled. Picture: SNS
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THIS all-too-simple victory ­catapulted Glasgow above the Ospreys and into fourth in the RaboDirect, the last of the all-important play-off places.

It is a little unlikely that ­Gregor Townsend’s men can kick on and secure a home semi-final by finishing in the top two, that requires ­others above them to lose, but on this sort of attacking form they will give better defences than ­Treviso’s cause for concern.

The match marked the return to action of Peter Horne after a serious knee injury had kept the little midfielder sidelined for the entire season. His arrival on 58 minutes to replace Ruaridh ­Jackson was greeted by a huge cheer, or at least by as much noise as the sparse Scotstoun crowd could muster. Horne had played one match for Stirling County and the same for Hawick in the club game but this was his first pro appearance for almost a year so he can be forgiven if he looked a little ring rusty.

For perhaps the first time all season Glasgow’s attacking game clicked into gear, at least in patches, the last passes stuck, the gaps appeared and, to be honest, Treviso played their part as patsies whose lame efforts barely amounted to half-hearted. Only in the rolling maul did the Italians expose Glasgow’s old Achilles heel, earning twin shots at goal after Glasgow collapsed a couple of driving attacks.

Glasgow No 8 Ryan Wilson proved a handful all night with some powerful runs, Geoff Cross didn’t have everything his own way but at least he looked like he enjoyed his brief shift. In defence man-of-the-match Finn Russell did a very decent impression of Jonny Wilkinson while in attack Niko Matawalu is back to being Niko Matawalu much to everyone’s relief.

It was indicative of their struggles to date that Glasgow had yet to claim a try bonus but they put that right last night in some style. They scored their first five-pointer on exactly one minute and three seconds after Sean Maitland gifted Henry Pyrgos the score and they had chalked up their second try before five minutes was up after Mark Bennett made the initial break and Matawalu finished it off. Skipper Al Kellock was opting for the attacking lineout over an easy three points almost from the off and who can blame him?

Glasgow ended the evening with a haul of four tries, two of which went to Pyrgos, while Russell added nine points with the boot. If the attack functioned as it should the same claim ­cannot be made for Glasgow’s defence which owed more to Fort Apache than Fort Knox. The Italians’ big runners embarrassed the home defenders on more than one occasion.

After a couple of early scores Glasgow had the wind taken from their sails when Treviso scored a humdinger. A length of the field effort that was kick-started by full-back Luke McLean and finished expertly by centre Alberto Sgarbi.

But normal service was quickly resumed after a beautiful move with Russell straightening the line, Maitland offering pace and Rob Harley acting as link man with Pyrgos who made a showy dive under the posts. And that was that, at least for a while. Glasgow took their foot off the gas, Treviso got a toe hold in this match, Tobias Botes added a ­penalty to his earlier conversion and fluffed two others attempts, one by the width of the Clyde.

Glasgow enjoyed all the early pressure in the second half but came away with no more than a Russell penalty for their efforts. With the addition of a couple of 50th-minute substitutes to add some impetus Glasgow turned the screws and Maitland called on all his speed to grab the bonus point try on 53 minutes with Russell adding the touchline conversion.

The usual slew of substitutes on both sides only seemed to hinder rather than help the flow of the game although Matawalu did shimmy his way through the middle of Treviso’s defensive wall only to see his lobbed pass spilt by Pyrgos, blinded ­perhaps by the thought of all those ‘hat-trick’ headlines.

The match rather petered out after that, although there was still time for flanker Tyrone Holmes to pick up a yellow card for some illegality at the breakdown and Treviso’s Brendan Williams almost took advantage of the extra man late in the day but the replacement was stopped just short of the line by a combination of Matawalu and Horne.

Ulster are next up in the league, in two weeks’ time. Townsend and the rest of this Glasgow squad knows that they will present an altogether more serious challenge.