Glasgow Warriors dominate – and can only get better

Jonny Gray rises to grab possession at a lineout during Glasgow Warriors' victory over Zebre on Saturday. Picture: Rex/Shutterstock
Jonny Gray rises to grab possession at a lineout during Glasgow Warriors' victory over Zebre on Saturday. Picture: Rex/Shutterstock
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They are 15 points clear in the Guinness Pro14 Conference A, have picked up ten bonus points in 13 games and could clinch their play-off spot in their next match. Yet Glasgow Warriors insist the best is yet to come.

Amazingly, that is even true of their star man in the six-try romp against Zebre. George Horne made one try, scored another and kept the game zooming along but maintains he is nowhere near the finished article.

“I feel more settled every game but I know there is a lot to work on, decision-making in particular – there is a lot to work on there,” he said after collecting his man-of-the -match award in Italy. “I am enjoying my rugby and every game I play, I feel a lot more comfortable.”

It has certainly been a remarkable start to his career for the younger of the Horne brothers. After getting his first run off the bench only at the tail-end of last season, he is no longer the bits-and-pieces scrum-half behind his capped colleagues, Ali Price and Henry Pyrgos, but a genuine contender for the position every week.

He is a bustling kind of player who never really lets his opposite number settle but what really marks him out is his remarkable eye for the right support lines to get into positions from which he can score.

After only 12 games, only four of them starts, he has already collected seven tries – it works out at an impressive try for every 48 minutes of action – and is the club’s leading scorer.

He is modest about the achievement: “I just have to run those support lines and then if it comes it is easy,” said Horne, pictured, after collecting his latest in support of a break by back row Adam Ashe. “Ashe did really well, all I have to do is keep running those support lines.”

Statisticians have been having a lot of fun this week with the fact that it took his brother, Peter, seven seasons and 60-plus games to reach the same mark.

“I saw that stat the other day. It is credit to the team for all the scores, them working hard and me getting on the end. It is all good fun,” was George’s modest reaction.

That scoring touch, however, was the real difference between the teams. Glasgow were back to their familiar style of this season – loads of ambition, too many handling mistakes but lethal when the try line came into sight.

It was a good mixture of scores, too. Two from driving mauls – one a penalty try, the other grounded by Matt Fagerson, the No 8 – two from extended handling moves finished by George Horne and Lee Jones; two from their ability to spot and exploit gaps, with Lee Jones and Nick Grigg finishing them off.

In the middle part of the field, Zebre were arguably the better team. They handled audaciously, putting in more than double the number of passes that Glasgow managed and forcing the Scots to make more than twice as many tackles.

Their rampaging back row were particularly hard for Glasgow to stop and they certainly created enough chances to have got more from the game only to run into a good scramble defence and their own impatience. Their opening try, scored by No 8 Renato Giammarioli, came after a long handling move, but for all their flamboyance the other two, by flanker Maxime Mbanda and hooker Tomasso D’Apice, were short-range pick and drives.

Apart form Horne, the other stand-out back was Huw Jones. It was his chip and chase that earned the scrum five from which Horne created Lee Jones’s first try; it was his huge miss pass to Ruaridh Jackson that created Jones’ second, and he was the one who got to Finn Russell’s kick through and tapped the ball straight into the hands of Grigg for the 
final try.

“When we built phases, we looked dangerous and we have good strike runners who will get us on the front foot.

“The thing at the moment is that we need to hold on to the ball better and not switch off after we score a try. When we kept hold of the ball, we looked good,” was Horne’s simple analysis.