Glasgow Warriors hand Benetton their first defeat
MATCH REPORT: Glasgow Warriors ran in four tries to earn a 26-12 bonus-point victory over Benetton.
A competitive encounter was decided by the home side’s clinical finishing as Franco Smith’s men continued their strong start to the United Rugby Championship season.
Glasgow were missing Jamie Dobie, out for up to 14 weeks following ankle surgery, and the suspended Duncan Weir.
Their losses were offset by a first appearance since the World Cup for George Turner, while Tom Gordon also featured for the first time this season.
Benetton arrived as the only undefeated team in the league and took advantage of some Glasgow indiscipline to land two early Tomas Albornoz penalties.
They could have stretched their lead when Albornoz attempted a drop-goal, but he pulled his effort just wide.
Glasgow hit back as they crossed for the first try of the game.
Stafford McDowall won his side a line-out with the 50:22 kick, with the ball being passed through hands before Josh McKay burst over. George Horne knocked over the extras.
Glasgow had their second try just minutes later. Sebastian Cancelliere burst through the middle of the Benetton defence before finding Kyle Rowe to dot down, with Horne again converting.
The Italians, though, responded with another perfect Albornoz penalty to keep them in contention.
Warriors were then reduced temporarily to 14 men when McKay went in high on Sebastian Negri and was shown a yellow card.
Benetton could not take advantage of the man advantage for 10 minutes but came within inches from scoring late in the first half, only for Marcus Watson to be bundled into touch by a combination of Cancelliere and Tom Jordan.
Glasgow were reduced to 14 men for a second time early in the second half when Tom Gordon was sin-binned for illegally disrupting the maul.
Benetton looked certain to score with the man advantage, but Marco Zanon dropped the ball right on the line under pressure from Matt Fagerson.
That was a let-off for Glasgow and they capitalised with a third try. Cancelliere took a quick line-out to McKay who released Horne. The scrumhalf burst forward before releasing the Argentina international to score.
Jacob Umaga added a penalty to keep Benetton within range before Horne claimed Glasgow’s fourth try, taking a pass from McKay on the wing before diving over in the corner.
Man of the match: Glasgow captain Stafford McDowall got the fightback going with a brilliant 50:22 kick and was always willing to show for the ball and get his team moving forward. Warriors’ decision-making was key to the victory and he showed great composure when it was needed most to steer his team around the pitch.
For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: McKay, Rowe, Cancelliere, Horne
Cons: Horne 3
Pens: Albornoz 4
Yellow cards: Josh McKay (Glasgow, 25′- foul play, high tackle); Tom Gordon (Glasgow, 49′ – cynical play, disrupting maul)
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Josh McKay, 14 Sebastian Cancelliere, 13 Sione Tuipulotu, 12 Stafford McDowall (captain), 11 Kyle Rowe, 10 Tom Jordan, 9 George Horne, 8 Sione Vailanu, 7 Thomas Gordon, 6 Matt Fagerson, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Lucio Sordoni, 2 George Turner, 1 Jamie Bhatti.
Replacements: 16 Johnny Matthews, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 Max Williamson, 21 Ally Miller, 22 Sean Kennedy, 23 Ross Thompson.
Benetton: 15 Giacomo Da Re, 14 Marcus Watson, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Paolo Odogwu, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Alessandro Garbisi, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 1 Ivan Nemer.
Replacements: 16 Bautista Bernasconi, 17 Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Giovanni Pettinelli, 21 Henry Time-Stowers, 22 Dewaldt Duvenage, 23 Jacob Umaga.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Finlay Brown (Scotland), Sam O’Neil (Scotland)
TMO: Mark Patton (Ireland)