Little will live long in the memory from Glasgow’s win at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, but it was a significant result nonetheless - one that, in seasons past, might easily have gone against the Scottish side.
To call the Warriors’ performance ‘businesslike’ would be overstating matters, because there was a lot of befuddlement about their game and they only rarely showed the incisiveness in attack that has become their trademark. But while their route to victory may have been messy and meandering, what mattered most was the fact that they got to their destination. Ideally they would have flown back to Scotland with five points, but head coach Danny Wilson was satisfied, after a fashion, with one less.
“We can take four points out of it, that’s important,” he said after first-half tries from Lewis Bean and Sione Tuipulotu had helped Glasgow to a third victory in four games in the URC. “I said before the game ‘Boys, we’re currently a top-four team. Top-four teams come here and do the job’.
“We’ve come here and to an extent we’ve done the job. We’ve got the four points we needed.
“Granted, we wanted five, and we haven’t got them because of not a great performance. But if we can play as poorly as in that second half and still hold on and win in Italy, I’ll take that. But I think we all know we’ve got to be better next week facing Leinster at home.”
The one considerable downside of this match was the injury to Fraser Brown that appears certain to rule him out of that game at Scotstoun on Friday, and may well also necessitate his missing Scotland’s autumn internationals too. “It doesn’t look great at the moment,” Wilson added. “It’s a knee injury that will need to be scanned. It’s tough for him.”
However, Glasgow are sure to have a number of other key men back to face Leinster. British & Irish Lions Ali Price and Zander Fagerson, for example, could be involved for the first time this season. Scotland backs Sam Johnson and Kyle Steyn should also return after being rested, and Australian international Jack Dempsey should be back after he and Matt Fagerson - who is more of a doubt for Friday - were ruled out of this game at the last minute by illness.
“We’ve had a lot of disruption this week and we’ve come away with four points,” Wilson continued. “So we’ve got to take the positive of that first of all.
“Our second-half performance was poor. But like I said, we’ve come out of here with a win. That’s three wins on the bounce, we’re still fourth in the league, we’ll take that.”
Bean’s close-range try opened the scoring in the sixth minute, and Tuipolutu’s score after half an hour came from an excellent passing move involving Rufus McLean, Cole Forbes and Rory Forbes. Duncan Weir converted both to give Glasgow a 14-6 lead at the break after Carlo Canna had slotted two penalties for the home team.
The second half was a sloppy affair. Zebre were never entirely out of contention, but in the end the only score after the break was a Weir penalty.
Scorers: Zebre: Pens: Canna 2.
Glasgow: Tries: Bean, Tuipulotu. Cons: Weir 2. Pen: Weir.
Zebre Parma: J Laloifi; P Bruno, G Bisegni (capt, E Cronje 64mins), T Boni, A Tuivuaka; C Canna, A Fusco (M Violi 64); D Fischetti (A Lovotti 67), L Bigi (O Fabiani 64), M Nocera (E Bello 41), D Sisi (C Stoian 67), A Zambonin, M Mbandà, R Giammarioli, G Licata (L Andreani 58).
Glasgow Warriors: C Forbes (R Thompson 72); S Cancelliere, N Grigg ( S McDowall 76), S Tuipulotu, R McLean; D Weir, G Horne (S Kennedy 66); J Bhatti (B Thyer 64), J Matthews (F Brown 50), O Kebble (E Pieretto 50), L Bean (R Harley 50), R Gray, R Wilson (capt), R Darge, A Miller (T Gordon 68).
Referee: A Brace (Ireland).