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Glasgow survive big Zebre scare

URC REPORT: Jonny Matthews scored a pair of tries as Glasgow Warriors overcame a scare against Zebre Parma to end their regulation United Rugby Championship campaign with a 38-26 victory at Scotstoun.

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Warriors were already assured of a top-four finish but their bid to go into the play-offs on a high note were in jeopardy for much of the match as the spirited Italians led until the 66th minute before wilting in the closing stages.

Glasgow had Scotland internationals Richie Gray and Huw Jones back in their starting XV for the first time since they sustained injuries on Six Nations duty.

The hosts made a strong start and got themselves ahead in the third minute when prop Jamie Bhatti scored off the back of a line-out maul. Veteran flyhalf Duncan Weir, on his 150th appearance, added the extras.

Zebre reduced their arrears to just one point, however, with a couple of penalties from Giovanni Montemauri in the 13th and 24th minutes.

However, The hosts stretched their lead in the 32nd minute as hooker Matthews touched down for his 14th try of the season – his 13th in the URC – from another line-out maul. Weir was off target with the conversion.

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Zebre finished the first half with a flourish. With 38 minutes on the clock, fullback Jacopo Trulla sent a penalty from just inside his own half soaring between the posts.

And in the last action of the first half, the Italians got their noses in front with a scintillating try as some excellent play by Trulla and Pierre Bruno created an opening for Montemauri to race clear down the right. Montemauri converted himself to give Zebre a surprise 16-12 lead at the break.

Glasgow regained the initiative two minutes after the break, however, when Rowe applied the finish after some excellent play by Sione Tuipulotu to set him free. Weir was again unable to add the conversion.

But Zebre roared back into the lead in the 50th minute when Bautista Stavile intercepted a Rory Darge pass and darted over, with Montemauri again on point from the tee.

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The topsy-turvy nature of the match continued on the hour mark when Sebastian Cancelliere burst in on the right to finish off a lovely flowing Glasgow build-up, with substitute George Horne converting.

But the visitors went ahead again just two minute later with another excellently-struck penalty from Montemauri.

Glasgow finally managed to seize control in the closing stages with tries from Matthews and substitute Tom Jordan – both converted by Horne – taking the game away from the Italians.

Man of the match: Rory Darge looked slightly bemused when it was announced at full-time that he had been named player of the match after he gifted Zebre a second-half try when his pass was intercepted, but the Scotland co-captain did plenty of good work to help his team get on top in the closing stages as they eventually overpowered their spirited Italian opponents.

The scorers:

For Glasgow:
Tries: Bhatti. Matthews 2, Rowe, Cancelliere, Jordan
Cons: Weir, Horne 3

For Zebre:
Tries: Montemauri, Bravin
Cons: Montemauri 2
Pens: Montemauri 3, Trulla

Teams:

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Kyle Rowe, 14 Facundo Cordero, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu (captain), 11 Sebastian Cancelliere, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Jamie Dobie, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Rory Darge, 6 Matt Fagerson, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Max Williamson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Johnny Matthews, 1 Jamie Bhatti.
Replacements: 16 Gregor Hiddleston, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Oli Kebble, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Euan Ferrie, 21 George Horne, 22 Ross Thompson, 23 Tom Jordan.

Zebre: 15 Jacopo Trulla, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Luca Morisi (captain), 12 Damiano Mazza, 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Giovanni Montemauri, 9 Alessandro Fusco, 8 Davide Ruggeri, 7 Bautista Stavile, 6 Giacomo Ferrari, 5 Leonard Krumov, 4 Matteo Canali, 3 Muhamed Hasa, 2 Giampietro Ribaldi, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso Di Bartolomeo, 17 Alessio Sanavia, 18 Riccardo Genovese, 19 David Sisi, 20 Taina Fox-Matamua, 21 Ratko Jelic, 22 Tiff Eden, 23 Fetuli Paea.

Referee: Peter Martin (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Hollie Davidson (Scotland) and Michael Todd (Scotland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

Photo credit: @ZebreParma

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