Zebre 10-42 Glasgow Warriors: Visitors score six tries and go top of Conference A
|Pro14: Zebre v Glasgow Warriors|
|Zebre (3) 10|
|Tries: Castello Con: Brummer Pen: Canna|
|Glasgow Warriors (35) 42|
|Tries: Fagerson (2), Fusaro, McDowall, Jackson, Swinson Cons: Hastings (6)|
Glasgow Warriors surged to the top of Pro14 Conference A with a thumping six-try win over Zebre in Parma.
Munster's 10-6 defeat by Scarlets means Dave Rennie's side leapfrog them into top spot.
Matt Fagerson (twice), Chris Fusaro, Stafford McDowall, Ruaridh Jackson and Tim Swinson all crossed for the visitors.
Tommaso Castello scored Zebre's only try, and the hosts also had Carlo Canna sent off late on.
The bonus-point win moves Glasgow into the driving seat for a home semi-final with four matches left; they lead Munster by three points.
Zebre meanwhile remain adrift at the bottom of Conference A.
Glasgow blitz seals win early
After a dreadful run of form over Christmas, Glasgow had rediscovered their mojo to get three straight wins and keep the heat on Munster in the race for top spot in Conference A.
Having scored 77 points in their last two games, there had been no shortage of tries either and, after initially going behind to Canna's penalty, the scores continued to flow.
Tim Swinson thought he was the one to get the ball rolling, but after a review it was judged he had been held up. It only delayed the inevitable though as number eight Fagerson smashed through from the resulting five-metre scrum. Adam Hastings converted to make it 7-3.
The hosts responded well, buoyed by the return of a number of their internationals. But as they pressed for a score of their own, some loose play at a ruck allowed Fusaro to pick up and run 70 metres for a try. It knocked the stuffing out of the Italian side.
Just five minutes later, 21-year-old centre McDowall sat down the last Zebre defender and went under the sticks after running a clever line off the top of a line-out. Hastings converted for the third time and Glasgow effectively had the game wrapped up.
The bonus point followed swiftly, a Hastings break from deep forcing Zebre to put the ball out in their own 22 after stealing possession. From the line-out, the fly-half dinked the ball over the defence and Jackson scooped up to score.
Then Fagerson latched on to an offload from Oli Kebble to add his second and Glasgow's fifth try in 30 minutes, and Hastings remained flawless with his conversions.
It was breathtaking to watch; Zebre were powerless to resist their visitors' intensity and skillset. The only negative for Glasgow, and Scotland, was the loss of hooker George Turner to injury five minutes before the break. He had just returned from an ankle injury a fortnight ago.
Spirited Zebre stem the tide
The second half started miserably for Zebre, with fly-half Canna sent to the sin-bin within a minute for a deliberate knock-on as Hastings burst through. And four minutes later, Swinson battered through for the sixth try. Hastings again added the extras.
But they were to be Glasgow's only points of the second half, as Zebre stemmed the tide of tries.
Still down to 14 men, they grabbed a try of their own on a rare foray into the Glasgow 22. The big forwards trucked it up for a few phases, then Josh Renton fed centre Castello who found space on the outside of Zander Fagerson to nip through and dot down. Francois Brummer converted to make the score 10-42.
Zebre showed plenty of spirit and did a good job of disrupting Glasgow's attack, though the visitors' accuracy tailed off significantly with the game in the bag.
Canna was shown a second yellow and then red after he kicked out at D'arcy Rae when the prop hit him late. But even when permanently down to 14 for the final 12 minutes, Zebre came close to adding to their tally.
Ultimately though, there was no change to the score and Glasgow eased to a crucial victory. Their festive hiccup now seems a distant memory with a home semi-final once more in their sights.
Zebre: Brummer; Di Giulio, Bisegni, Castello, Elliott; Canna, Renton; Rimpelli, Fabiani, Tenga, Ortis, Sisi, Brown, Tuivaiti, Giammarioli.
Replacements: Ceciliani, Fischetti, Nocera, Tauyavuca, Bianchi, Palazzani, Boni, Balekana.
Glasgow Warriors: Jackson; Nairn, Steyn, McDowall, Hughes; Hastings, Frisby; Kebble, Turner, Z Fagerson, Swinson, Cummings, Harley, Fusaro, M Fagerson.
Replacements: Stewart, Allan, Rae, Flockhart, Ashe, Matawalu, Thomson, Kelly.