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Zebre go in search of historic third straight win at Glasgow Warriors

Guinness PRO12 Editor 13 Apr 2017

Glasgow Warriors welcome Zebre to Scotstoun on Friday looking to keep their hopes of reaching the Guinness PRO12 Final Series alive.

Defeat to Munster last time out dented those hopes, but the 2015 champions are still mathematically in with a shout but will be fully aware that maximum points are need against Zebre.

However, that is easier said than done as the Italian side arrive having won back-to-back Guinness PRO12 games against Connacht and Newport Gwent Dragons.

What’s at stake?

A 10-7 defeat to Munster last time out was a bitter pill for Glasgow Warriors to swallow as it dented their hopes of a top four finish.

They are still mathematically in with a shout of achieving their goal though, but as they sit sixth in the table and are 11 points behind fourth-placed Scarlets they will know that only maximum points will do against Zebre.

Zebre arrive have won two successive Guinness PRO12 games, these results seeing them jump off the foot of the table with their Italian counterparts Benetton Treviso replacing them.

However, just three points separate the two and with three games remaining both will be looking to secure Champions Cup rugby next term.

Glasgow Warriors team news

Leonardo Sarto  has recovered from injury in time to face his former side as he dons the No.14 jersey for Glasgow Warriors.

The Italian international has not played for the Warriors since October following shoulder surgery, his last game seeing him put in a man-of-the-match performance against Leicester Tigers in the Champions Cup.
Sarto has scored three tries in six appearances for Glasgow following his move from Parma last summer and he starts in the back three alongside Rory Hughes and Peter Murchie.

Sam Johnson also returns from injury to start, partnering Nick Grigg in the centres after over a month on the sidelines. Henry Pyrgos will captain the side at scrum-half with Peter Horne shifting to fly-half.

Teenager Matt Fagerson, 18, starts at No.8, joined in the back-row by the experienced heads of Rob Harley and Chris Fusaro. Scott Cummings and Greg Peterson combine in the engine room behind a front row of Alex Allan, Pat MacArthur and D’arcy Rae.

And on the bench, hooker Cammy Fenton could make his first appearance at Scotstoun and first of the season, while Sean Lamont will look to make an impact following the announcement that he will retire from rugby at the end of the season.

Zebre team news

Zebre will arrive in Glasgow without some of their Italian internationals with Carlo Canna, Dario Chistolini, Andrea Lovotti and Edoardo Padovani all missing.

However, there is good news with full-back Kurt baker and flanker Jacopo Sarto both returning from injuries to take their places on the bench at Scotstoun.

All-in-all, George Biagi has made ten changes to the side that beat Newport Gwent Dragons last time out, split equally amongst his forwards and backs.

Talking Points

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend is eager for his troops to keep fighting until the bitter end as they eye up a top-four Guinness PRO12 finish.

He said: “Leo (Sarto) is excited to be back available and we’re looking forward to seeing him play. He has trained well over the last couple of weeks and it’s great that has made it back before the end of the season.

“The same goes for Greg Peterson and Sam Johnson who are both starting a game for the first time in a while and will be eager to grab this opportunity.

“The players are determined to finish the season on a high, and there is a real enthusiasm throughout the squad to play well in front of our home crowd.

“We will have to be accurate, focused and out-work our opposition, as Zebre come into the game in good form. It should be an excellent challenge for this group of players.”

Key Battle

With Carlo Canna not available the onus falls on fly-half Serafin Bordoli to keep Zebre ticking as they look to record an unprecedented third straight Guinness PRO12 win.

It is a lot to ask for a 22-year-old, especially one who is yet to don the blue shit of Italy.

And when you consider his opposite number is Peter Horne, a man with over 100 Glasgow Warriors caps to his name, then the task ahead is even more daunting.

Horne started on the bench last time out and was in the centres for the Champions Cup clash at Saracens, but he is looking to control the game for the hosts with the No.10 on his back.

Did You Know?

Zebre have never won three successive Guinness PRO12 games before, but that is what they are after at Scotstoun having beaten Connacht and Newport Gwent Dragons in their previous two outings.

However, the history books are not on their side with Glasgow Warriors having won all nine matches between the two sides to date, the last six seeing them earn maximum points too.

 

Glasgow Warriors top points scorer: Finn Russell 67. Top try scorer: Tommy Seymour – 8

Zebre top points scorer: Carlo Canna -83. Top try scorer: Dries van Schalkwyk & Giovanbattista Venditti – 4

Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:
Played 9, Glasgow Warriors have won all 9

 

At Scotstoun Stadium, 7.35pm Live on BBC Alba

Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU, 50th competition game)

Assistant Referees: Eddie Hagan-O’Connell (IRFU), Cammy Rudkin (SRU)

Citing Commissioner: John Kirk (SRU)

TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)

 

The Guinness PRO12 Final takes place on May 27 at Aviva Stadium, Dublin. 
Fans can guarantee their place by booking their tickets via www.ticketmaster.ie

Further information: www.pro12rugby.com/final

 

Nick Grigg leads rampant Glasgow Warriors to comfortable Zebre win

Guinness PRO12 Rugby Editor 14 Apr 2017

A free-scoring Glasgow Warriors put pay to Zebre’s attempts for a third successive Guinness PRO12 win as Gregor Townsend’s men outscored the Italians by seven tries to two.

Scores for Nick Grigg, Rob Harley, Peter Murchie, Matt Fagerson, Sam Johnson and a double for Matt Smith meant Zebre’s efforts were in vain on a perfect night for running rugby at Scotstoun.

Zebre were dealt a blow within the opening five minutes as scrum-half Carlo Engelbrecht was helped from the field after appearing to twist his ankle, with Marcello Violi replacing him.

And as another Zebre player was down receiving treatment, Henry Pyrgos’s clever passing set up a driving maul that went over the line – however the ball was dropped before being grounded and the TMO ruled no try.

The Italians then suffered another blow as captain Valerio Bernabo also had to leave the field, with Derick Minnie coming on to replace him.

Warriors’ pressure eventually paid off as Peter Horne fed Grigg, who was rifling through on a perfect diagonal angle to roll over the line and get the opening score – Horne making the conversion.

And a second score came before the 20 minute mark after another period of sustained Warriors pressure.

The home side moved the ball swiftly from the breakdown on the left touchline, with full-back Murchie the happy recipient with a simple finish on the right flank – Horne again successful from the kicking tee for a 14-0 lead.

Johnson was next to make a telling contribution, with his blistering break from his own 22 to that of Zebre, setting up a platform for the ball to be switched left and for flanker Harley to run in a third try for Warriors – Horne adding the extras.

And a fourth came before 30 minutes were up, with Pyrgos feeding Chris Fusaro to break free and pass to Fagerson for a simple finish and Horne’s fourth conversion.

Ten minutes into an uneventful second half and with Glasgow’s scrum seemingly failing, Townsend rung the changes with three replacements coming on to shake up the Warriors pack.

And they had an immediate effect with the home side driving a scrum out of their own 22 and putting themselves on the attack.

After 15 minutes of scoreless play Rory Hughes thought he had got a fifth score for Warriors, but replacement Brian Alainu-uese was penalised for crossing in the build up and the TMO chalked off the try.

But the score did come before the hour mark, with Fusaro breaking through to set up Johnson for his first Warriors try, bouncing back up after a tackle to dive over the line – Horne maintaining his 100 per cent kicking record.

And five minutes later Smith was another to get his first Warriors score as the replacement bundled through from a rolling maul to go over in the left corner – George Horne not able to pick up where his brother left off with the replacement wayward from the tee.

But Zebre were not giving up and went right up the other end to score through Kayle van Zyl, Guglielmo Palazzani missing the conversion.

Normal service was resumed in the final ten minutes, however, as Glasgow drove over the line, only for Sean Lamont to be held up.

But a seventh try did come with five minutes to play, as Alainu-uese tried to drive over following a fine step off the left foot.

He was stopped short of the line but the ball popped up in the tackle and fell into the grateful arms of Smith, who went over for his second of the night – Horne adding the conversion.

Zebre got another consolation with two minutes to play as replacement Kurt Baker ran in a second for the visitors, but Palazzani’s quick conversion bounced out off the post, summing up a tough night for the Italians in Glasgow.

The Guinness PRO12 Final takes place on May 27 at Aviva Stadium, Dublin. 
Fans can guarantee their place by booking their tickets via www.ticketmaster.ie

Further information: www.pro12rugby.com/final