Glasgow Warriors overcome Benetton - Rufus McLean relief, impressive Ollie Smith, Domingo Miotti's first

On a wet and windy night at Scotstoun, Glasgow Warriors overcame the conditions and a determined Benetton to pick up a 13-3 win that lifts them to second in the United Rugby Championship table, at least until Ulster play the Dragons away on Sunday afternoon.

Glasgow Warriors' Jack Dempsey scores his side's second try.
Glasgow Warriors' Jack Dempsey scores his side's second try.

This victory is their third on the bounce without their front-line Scotland players – who are on Six Nations duty – suggesting that Danny Wilson’s side now has the strength in depth to be genuine contenders in this competition. It wasn't a classic but all wins count in a long hard season.

“First of all, it was difficult conditions,” said head coach Danny Wilson afterwards. “But it's another win at home which is the most important thing and a chance to move up the league.

Sign up to our Rugby Union newsletter

“The positive was our defensive performance, which was outstanding. We kept them out really well.

Glasgow Warriors' Ollie Smith runs through for the opening try against Benetton.

“But, unfortunately, we struggled with the ball to string much together. So we're a little bit disappointed with how we attacked. But it's a home win.”

Warriors drew first blood through a penalty by Domingo Miotti, who was making his first start in the Glasgow No 10 shirt.

However, that was soon cancelled out by opposite number Tomas Albonorz to make it 3-3 with just six minutes played.

The game burst into life when home winger Rufus McLean hacked a loose ball into the in-goal area and then outstripped Benetton’s cover defence.

Glasgow Warriors' Rufus McLean runs through for a try but knocks it on.

However, referee Frank Murphy viewed the video replay and decided that the ball had not been properly grounded.

McLean was lucky he did hurt himself at this point because after diving on the ball he slid head-first into the boarding behind the dead ball line.

It was a relief that he emerged unscathed because after a bright start to this season the young winger has endured a frustrating few months of unavailability, mainly through covid issues.

Warriors kept their foot on the gas, and Ollie Smith showed McLean – his flatmate – how to finish off a try a few minutes later.

The full-back showed pace, power and nimble feet shrug off three tackles on his way to the line – although Miotti couldn’t manage the conversion.

Smith threatened again when he broke from deep a few minutes later, but he couldn’t decide whether to release the support runner on his left and right, so the chance was lost.

Benetton dominated possession and territory during the final 10 minutes of the first half without really putting Warriors under real pressure.

The closest they got to scoring during that period was an audacious drop-goal attempt from halfway by winger Rhyno Smith which floated to the left of the posts.

He wasn’t far away – certainly much closer than Finn Russell in Cardiff last weekend.

Home head coach Danny Wilson sent on new half-backs in Jamie Dobie and Ross Thompson after seven minutes of the second half and the pair made an immediate impact.

Thompson fired an excellent kick into the corner with his first touch which set up 10 minutes of pressure and eventually led to the home team’s second try scored by Jack Dempsey.

With rain teeming down, it was tough conditions, and both teams struggled to assert themselves in an attacking sense.

Warriors had more control of the match and lengthy spells in their opponents’ 22, but they couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard.

It quickly became apparent that a bonus point was not going to be forthcoming, so Warriors did an effective job of closing the game down.

Next up is Scarlets away in two weeks time.

A message from the Editor: Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers. If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.