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