March 03, 2023
Glasgow Warriors 50 - 8 Zebre
United Rugby Championship match played at Scotstoun on Friday March 3rd 2023 | No comments
Johnny Matthews went over for three tries Glasgow Warriors scored eight tries in this evening's 50-8 URC win over Zebre at Scotstoun.
Johnny Matthews grabbed three tries while JP du Preez, Stafford McDowall, Josh McKay, Tom Gordon, and Fraser Brown also went over for the Warriors.
Chris Cook scored the only try for the visitors.
Zebre started quickly and were 5-0 up after two minutes, with scrum-half Cook going over from a quick tap-penalty.
Tiff Eden missed the touchline conversion, and Warriors struck back through hooker Matthews at the back of a line-out maul which had rumbled 20-yards to the try-line.
George Horne added the extras to edge the Warriors into the lead with 11 minutes played.
Zebre continued to press and it took some great cover defence from Sam Johnson and Ollie Smith to squeeze Luca Andreani into touch just short of the line.
A side-entry penalty conceded by the Warriors just inside their own half allowed Jacopo Trulla to edge the visitors back into the lead.
Glasgow 's maul has become a potent weapon this season and after kicking a penalty to the corner another line-out drive which was finished off by Matthews.
Warriors struck again on the half-hour when Matthews pounced on a loose Zebre line-out and then fed Du Preez who broke through tackles to touch down.
In the last play of the first half, Matthews claimed his hat-trick by once again adding the finishing touch at the end of a powerful line-out maul.
That meant the bonus-point was secured despite Warriors never reaching their best.
Horne nailed the extra two points to make it 24-8 at the break.
Warriors stretched further ahead after Scott Cummings charged-down Ratko Jeli's box-kick clearance, and Rory Darge combined with Horne to put McDowall over.
McKay was next on the scoresheet, with the winger racing home unchallenged on an overlap created by slick Warriors hands straight from a scrum.
With eight minutes to go, Gordon finished off a try under the posts following a powerful surge from Sione Vailanu, and Brown muscled over in the final play to bring up the half-century of home points.
Despite the eight tries and a half-century of points, Glasgow didn't play with the fluidity and flair they've shown this season. "But that's the beauty of it!" said Head Coach Franco Smith. "We can play in different ways. We treated a very difficult team on its merits. Yes, I agree we didn't play in the style that everyone expects, and as coaches we were even a little bit frustrated. But we know from watching Zebre that they are always a big threat in the second part of games."
"We decided to play in a certain way, get the win and I think we proved in the last 20 minutes our willingness to play with the ball in hand," added Smith. "We didn't want to make errors. We wanted to squeeze the game until we secured the win and the five points, so to end up scoring 50 points was satisfying.
"We didn't play a kicking game, we used the lineouts differently this week. You must also remember that we are a little bit disjointed because we have a lot of players out, we've travelled to South Africa [to play the Lions last weekend] and came back at the start of the week so we played this game with only two days of prep. We're using the full squad and it's in the midst of the Six Nations so it's important to prove we can play in different ways. We're definitely not changing our DNA, and we're not going away from what we want to do, but we are proving to ourselves that we can play in a different way when required."
The coach paid tribute to Matthews, who has to compete for the No 2 jersey at Glasgow with Scotland hookers George Turner and Brown. "I'm glad for him," said Smith. "He's at the back of that maul and everyone in front of him is working really hard but he's still got to finish it off. He's competing with two internationals in that role and he's proving he's growing every week."