Glasgow produced a herculean defensive effort against Benetton to continue their impressive start to the URC with a 26-12 victory.

The Italians arrived at Scotstoun as the only unbeaten side in the competition but they failed to capitalise on two occasions when Glasgow were down to 14 men as the hosts made it four wins from five to start the season. 

Franco Smtih has repeatedly stressed the importance of improving Glasgow’s defensive resilience this season and it was in full effect as they avoided conceding a single point when they had a player in the sin-bin. 

Josh McKay and Tom Gordon both seen yellow but Stafford McDowall and George Horne inspired Glasgow to victory as Franco Smith claimed the bragging rights, despite labelling his former side as ‘favourites’ pre-match.

“I’m really pleased with the victory and to score four tries in these conditions was really important. I’m not so satisfied with the way we played because there were too many errors. 

“Benetton played really well with ball and hand. We didn’t play that well tonight as we had lots of errors and I think the expectation around Scotsotun is growing. Maybe the guys didn’t want to disappoint so that’s why the errors creep in. Credit to Benettom, there was a reason why they weren’t beaten until tonight. It can be a changing room fix to our issues, there’s an eagerness and we’ve not played really well up to now from an attack perspective. 

“We haven’t had continuity in our squad and we need that now. We have everyone back on Monday for the first time this season. The tactical side is all there but it’s just the execution.”

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“There’s always two big enemies to a team - doubt and expectation. Once the desire gets more important than actions then sometimes it leads to error. I don’t want to get too philosophical about it but obviously winning is a huge help.

"The one thing that stands out is our defence and the way that we contribute physically. I’m very, very pleased that we didn’t allow them to score. There are four important games coming up before the derby. We just need to focus on improving."

Glasgow’s maul has become a hallmark of their game under Smith and they’d, remarkably, scored from that tactic in their last ten games ahead of facing Benetton. Tom Jordan kicked to the corner from an early penalty as Glasgow looked to capitalise on their area of strength but Benetton defended well and evaded danger. 

Benetton have improved considerably in the last few years and they battered the Glasgow defensive line before winning a penalty as Tomas Albornoz kicked the first points of the game and he doubled their advantage minutes later after Richie Gray was penalised for a side entry at the breakdown. 

Glasgow were limited as an attacking threat during the opening 15 minutes but McDowall set up a brilliant attacking platform with a superb kick to secure a 15-22. Benetton expected Glasgow to construct a rolling maul, but they spun the ball out to the backs and Tom Jordan broke the game line before offloading to Josh McKay to race over the line on 17 minutes.

Horne converted to establish a 7-6 but it should have been more just 60 seconds later, but Sebastian Cancelliere picked the wrong option as he kicked, rather than passing, after bursting through the Benetton defence. 

Glasgow, however, didn’t have to wait long to add their second try as Kyle Rowe opened his account for the Warriors. Cancelliere avenged his error as he slipped through two tackles before popping the ball off for Rowe to ease under the posts.

Horne added the extras to make it 14-6 but Benetton replied immediately from kick-off as Albornoz kicked another penalty to reduce the deficit to five points.

Duncan Weir was cited for a high tackle in midweek and try scorer McKay was fortunate to escape a red card for a head-on-head contact with Sebastian Negri. Mckay was sin-binned for ten minutes as Negri headed off for an HIA assessment, but Benetton failed to capitalise on their man advantage as Glasgow reorganised impressively to deprive the visitors of any points before McKay returned to the field on 36 minutes. 

The Italians camped deep in Glasgow’s 22 as they racked up the phases before half-time but Jordan’s excellent covering tackle stopped them from scoring in the corner as Glasgow preserved their five-point lead at half-time. 

Benetton dominated possession and territory in the first half but their inability to penetrate the Glasgow defence continued after the interval despite multiple phases.

The Italians preserved despite Glasgow’s resolute defensive effort and the returning  Gordon was yellow carded on 51 minutes, but Benetton immediately spurned another try-scoring opportunity as Matt Fagerson produced a brilliant tackle as the Italian’s spilled on the try line.

While Benetton were profligate all evening, Glasgow were ruthless and Cancelliere added their third try on 57 minutes in front of his newborn daughter. The Argentinian winger collected Horne’s pass out wide and sped over the line to open up a ten-point lead as Horne missed the conversion. 

Substitute Jacob Umaga quickly cut the deficit to seven with a penalty but Glasgow, once again, demonstrated their brilliance in attack to secure the bonus point. After McDowall broke through the Benetton defence, Glasgow recycled the ball and McKay spun a long pass out for Horne to seal the win.

Glasgow Warriors XV: J McKay; S Cancelliere, S Tuipulotu, S McDowall©, K Rowe; T Jordan, G Horne; J Bhatti, G Turner, L Sordoni, S Manjezi, R Gray, M Fagerson, T Gordon, S Vialanu. 

Replacements: J Matthews, A Dell, E Pieretto, G Peterson, M Williamson, A Miller, S Kennedy, R Thompson

Tries: McKay, Rowe, Cancelliere, Horne

Pens: N/A

Yellow: McKay 25’, Gordon 55’

Benetton lineup: Nemer, Lucchesi, Ferrari, Cannone, Ruzza, Negri, Lamaro, Halafihi, Garbisi, Albornoz, Odogwu, Zanon, Brex, Watson, Da Re

Replacements:  Bernasconi, Spagnolo, Pasquali, Koegelenberg, Pettinelli, Time-Stowers, Duvenage, Umaga


Pens: Albornoz (3), Umaga.