There was every excuse not to show up at Scotstoun last night, a cold wind, modest opposition, the absence of several stars, but still the little ground was stowed out, a capacity crowd according to the official figures, even if a few empty green seats could be seen.
Cheered on by their vocal fans and with the first use of a handy breeze, Glasgow set out their stall early and should have had the opening try after just four minutes only for someone in black, Leonadro Sarto perhaps, to drop the ball over the try line.
Instead the home fans were made to wait until the tenth minute for the opening try of the game which went to centre Nick Grigg and the home team continued in much the same vein for the remainder of the 80 minutes. Glasgow secured the bonus point try before the half hour mark and ran in seven tries in total against the sorry Italian opponents who somehow managed two of their own.
Zebre arrived here on the back of two wins (answers on a postcard please?) and the visitors’ cause was not helped by losing two players inside the opening ten minutes, one of whom was their scrum-half, but even that barely excuses their lacklustre display.
At one point in the first half Glasgow won a set scrum inside their own 22 and centre Sam Johnson ran almost the length of the field before finally being hauled down deep inside the Zebre red zone.
Had he got the pass away to Grigg the little centre would have had a brace but it mattered little. One quickly tapped penalty later and Rob Harley had Glasgow’s third before two back row forwards, Chris Fusaro and Matt Fagerson, combined up the right flank to put the number eight over for Glasgow’s fourth and bonus-point score.
The younger of the two Fagerson brothers on Glasgow’s books enjoyed a comfortable first start at home. He guddled one ball at the base of a scrum, with a penalty coming his way, but he carried well and otherwise looked confident and assured especially when you remember he is still just 18 years old.
Greg Peterson was another willing carrier, with the ball and some space Fusaro looked more like a centre than the flanker he is and Peter Horne called the shots from No.10, kicking everything that came his way with a perfect five from five off the tee, before being replaced by younger brother George in the second half.
He also managed a 100 per cent record off the tee, missing both his conversion attempts.
Glasgow looked back to their efficient best, but given the paucity of the opposition it is probably wise to withhold judgment for the time being. The forwards bossed the contact zone and drove mauls with impunity. But if you run at Italians they will tackle all day and the running lines and offloads in the open spaces, from forwards and backs alike, was what sliced and diced Zebre all evening.
Glasgow started the second half with a 28-0 cushion and with the match long gone Zebre enjoyed their best period. The Italians took advantage of some Glasgow indiscipline to set up camp inside the home 22 and, for the first time in the match, the Warriors’ defence was tested and held firm.
On 50 minutes, Glasgow replaced two props and one lock and in the very next scrum drove Zebre back 20 metres to lift the siege. Glasgow kicked a penalty into the corner and Rory Hughes thought he had scored under the posts only to see the try wiped off for blocking.
Minutes later Fusaro stepped out of a weak tackle to send Sam Johnson over the line. Matt Smith replaced the flanker and scored with his first touch of the ball from a driven lineout and the youngster had the audacity to add another, Glasgow’s seventh, five minutes from time.
The match ended with a breakout try for Zebre, this one falling to Kurt Baker, which lent some credibility to the final score that the visitors scarcely deserved.