Glasgow Warriors 17 Benetton Treviso 9: The verdict
Glasgow Warriors got back to winning ways in the Guinness PRO12 with a hard-fought 17-9 win over Benetton Treviso on Friday
How good were the Warriors in victory?
With 18 players involved with the Scotland squad this week ahead of the viagogo Autumn Tests, a second-string team always had a lot to live up to. Unsurprisingly, it was an underwhelming performance on Halloween that could have done with a bit of dressing up. There were few treats for the 5,901 spectators who braved the wind and rain, with the only try of the match from Fijian scrum-half Niko Matawalu at the end of the first quarter the best highlight of the night. There is much work for the Warriors squad and BT Sport Academy players to do between now and their next match away to the Scarlets in three weeks’ time, but a win is a win and they remain second in the league. They will need to make good use of the down time ahead of their next match if they are to leave Llanelli with a win on 21 November.
Have Benetton Treviso really improved?
Compared to their outings against the Ospreys, both in the PRO12 and European Champions Cup, and the 40-23 defeat to the Warriors in Treviso four weeks ago, they have, but it’s worth remembering that they lost 19 players, including a raft of international talent in the summer, and at one point looked as though they would not even be in the competition. For Treviso to go to Scotstoun and ship just one try is a rare thing and speaks volumes about the improvements the Italians have made defensively under the leadership of Marius Goosen. The last club to achieve that was Munster in last season’s PRO12 semi-final in April, which the Warriors won 16-15. Treviso may not have scored a try, but they had versatile full-back Jayden Hayward to thank for slotting three penalties to keep them in the contest. The only time the match looked beyond them was in the closing stages after replacement loosehead prop Albert Anae was sent off and Warriors outside-half Peter Horne kicked two penalty goals to put the Leoni out of losing bonus-point range. That said, they still haven’t won a match in any competition this season, more accurately since round 19 of last season’s PRO12 at home to Newport Gwent Dragons, and are on their worst run since joining the Celtic League. They remain rooted to the bottom of the PRO12 with a solitary losing bonus point, but they are slowly becoming a side that is capable of picking up points and, if things go their way, a win.
Was the red card justified?
It is difficult to be sure, but the initial verdict is that Anae aimed a punch at Matawalu off the ball. If that was indeed the case, it is certainly justified and Treviso’s only complaint can be about the indiscipline of their Australian prop. The match wasn’t on TV, and the cameras that were there moved just at the wrong time, but Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend confirmed post-match that it appeared a punch was aimed, while his counterpart Casellato didn’t see the incident, but the assistant referee did, hence the red card from referee Ian Davies.
Much has been made of language issues at Treviso, is that still the case?
It’s a problem that has been raised several times by the coaches in defeat this season. The fact that so many southern hemisphere players joined the club in the summer and have been thrusted into the squad in the opening weeks of the season, it’s obviously going to be an issue. Treviso aren’t short of native English speakers in coaches Marius Goosen and Martin Field-Dodgson, who both speak excellent Italian. The issue is around players being able to communicate effectively during the match, which is crucial when, as was the case against the Warriors, their outside-half and full-back are New Zealanders and the rest of the backline are Italian. There is no easy way to get around being able to speak a common language, but it shouldn’t be a barrier to a team being able to play rugby if they learn the calls and systems, as well as some essential phrases that get them through a match. Treviso aren’t the first club to have a lot of English-speaking players in their team, and it appears to be an easy excuse for the coaches to make for failure elsewhere.
How did the Warriors not score more tries?
A mixture of the wind and rain that arrived just in time for kick-off as well as Treviso’s improved defence and their impressive work in disrupting the Warriors at the breakdown. For a club that loves to run the ball it is always going to be a struggle with a greasy ball, especially when the new Rhino balls used in the league are notoriously greasy in wet conditions – it isn’t unusual this season find a bag of balls in the club’s kitchen to get a bit of a scrubbing in an effort to improve handling. There is also the fact that the much of the team out there hadn’t played together or even had much game time at the top level. There were several lively assaults on the gainline from forwards Leone Nakarawa, Josh Strauss and Ryan Wilson and some great defensive work to keep Treviso’s danger men Campagnaro and Ludovico Nitoglia from getting too much time and space to launch attacks from deep. Wilson and prop Ryan Grant – who showed why he is a British and Irish Lion with a man of the match performance – were making their first starts of the season after shoulder surgery in the summer, while there were new combinations in the backline that haven’t spent much time together, other than in hit-outs and the odd club match in the BT Premiership, in the case of centres James Downey and Richie Vernon. It took the Warriors to the second half to really adapt to the conditions, by which point they had a numerical advantage, but with the scoreline as close as it was they were happy to keep the scoreboard ticking over rather than running the risk of going for tries. It was a smart tactic that ultimately brought them a win and the four points they needed to maintain a challenge to unbeaten league leaders Ospreys, who also won on Friday night.