Byron McGuigan’s first tries of the season helped Glasgow Warriors maintain their 100 per cent start to the new RaboDirect Pro12 season, bringing Zebre back down to earth in the process with a 24-17 victory.
Despite travelling to Stadio XXV Aprille as the only side left with a perfect record after three games, Glasgow did so wary of the challenge they faced after their hosts picked up their first-ever RaboDirect PRO12 win against Cardiff Blues last time out.
But after a tense opening first quarter the visiting Warriors were able to take a foothold in the game and went into the interval six points clear thanks to McGuigan’s first try of the campaign.
Immediately after the break hooker Dougie Hall marked his first start of the season with a try before McGuigan grabbed his second as Glasgow took control.
However when Jonny Gray saw yellow with ten minutes left Zebre came fighting back with tries from Samuela Vunisa and Leonardo Sarto, but it was too little too late.
There was a tense opening ten minutes to this clash in Italy, epitomised when Luciano Orquera failed to collect a routine ball that was kicked his way and conceded the knock on, although Zebre earned themselves a penalty from the resulting scrum.
And the fans had to wait until the 23rd minute for the first real try-scoring chance to arrive, although it came for the visitors as Tommy Seymour was held up just short of the line and Alex Dunbar knocked on as he attempted to dot the ball down.
But Glasgow were awarded a penalty for a Zebre offside during the play and Henry Pyrgos got his side on the board with the successful three pointer.
And just three minutes later Glasgow had the first try of the game as Sean Maitland, making his return to action following his time with the British & Irish Lions, released wing McGuigan on the left and he raced over for the score, Pyrgos adding the extras.
On the half hour mark fly-half Orquera kicked Zebre back in the game with a penalty, but just moments later the home side found themselves down to 14 men as prop Salvatore Purugini was shown a yellow card for not releasing.
However Pyrgos failed to make him pay as he missed with the penalty, although Orquera missed the chance to cut Zebre’s deficit on the stroke of half-time as he too missed a kick at the uprights and Glasgow went in 10-3 ahead at the break.
If the Warriors had failed to make the most of their man advantage in the first half they didn’t have to wait long to do so after the restart as Hall touched down after just a minute following a fine break from Seymour. Pyrgos knocked over the tough conversion on the left touchline for a 17-3 lead.
Zebre were not lying down however and were camped on the Glasgow tryline on 50 minutes but the visiting defence held firm.
And on 57 minutes McGuigan was able to celebrate his second try of the night as he once again teamed up with Maitland, this time the Lions winner sending a grubber kick through for the wing to pick up and touch down, Pyrgos again converting.
Zebre thought they had got themselves back in the game on 69 minutes when Gray was sent to the bin and Tommaso D’Apice thought he had burrowed over only for the television match official to rule the grounding as inconclusive.
But the home side did grab a try just moments later when No.8 Vunisa barged his way over, Orquera converting – the first score conceded by Glasgow this RaboDirect PRO12 season.
And the Warriors continued to feel Gray’s absence as on 76 minutes Zebre broke from deep and Vunisa sent wing Sarto over, Orquera adding the extras to bring his side to within seven points.