Keatley debuts as Glasgow made to work hard for PRO14 win at Zebre
Glasgow climbed back to fourth in Conference A after battling to a 31-20 Guinness PRO14 victory at Zebre.
The Warriors headed to Italy having won the previous 16 meetings between the sides but were made to work to preserve that perfect record.
Glasgow’s challenge was hindered by overlapping stints in the sin bin for Sam Johnson and Ollie Smith either side of the break.
However, the Warriors found another gear when back to their full complement and secured the bonus-point win thanks to tries from Jamie Dobie, Tom Gordon and Nick Grigg, going four points clear of Zebre with a game in hand.
The Warriors made an encouraging start but the flow of the match was interrupted by a troubling clash of heads between Michelangelo Biondelli and Gregor Brown.
The Zebre full-back had been on the charge when a quick change of direction saw him collide head-to-head with Brown.
Biondelli left the field on a stretcher after receiving treatment, while Glasgow back-rower Brown – making his first start – got back to his feet but was helped off by medical staff following the impact.
Paolo Pescetto opened the scoring from the tee when play eventually resumed, although Thompson restored parity four minutes later.
Thompson then moved Glasgow in front for the first time after 23 minutes when Zebre failed to deal with Cole Forbes’ grubber kick and the fly-half pounced to touch down before adding the extras.
Zebre lost Potu Leavasa to the sin bin but emerged from his absence back on level terms, with Renato Giammarioli’s offload sending Bellini in under the posts and Pescetto making it 10-10.
Report ?? https://t.co/T3q6STSeyk
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) March 6, 2021
The Warriors had Johnson yellow-carded for a tackle in the build-up to that try and Bellini scored his second in the space of two minutes as Zebre took a seven-point lead into half-time.
Glasgow were temporarily down to 13 men three minutes into the second half when Smith was penalised for a deliberate knock-on, and Pescetto opened up a 10-point advantage before the full-back’s punishment was up.
Smith never returned to the action but replacement Grigg was key to the move that brought Glasgow back into the game, carving a path through the Zebre defence before sending Dobie under the posts, and debutant Ian Keatley kicked the Warriors within three.
? Two tries in as many weeks for our all-action mulleted openside.
— Glasgow Warriors (@GlasgowWarriors) March 6, 2021
Enrico Lucchin was sent to the bin as Zebre came under pressure on their own line and Glasgow’s persistence paid off when Gordon emerged from the back of a ruck and stretched for the line before Grigg wrapped up the win and a bonus point, with Keatley converting both tries.
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