A greasy ball and a torn-up pitch didn’t allow for the most free-flowing game in Treviso on Saturday, but Glasgow Warriors did enough to become the first team to beat Benetton this season at the Stadio Monigo.

Tries from Johnny Matthews and Stafford McDowall gave the visitors a healthy and deserved lead at the break after they played to the conditions expertly.

But Benetton came roaring back in the second half, profiting from poor Glasgow discipline to reduce the deficit to three points through the boot of Jacob Umaga until Tom Jordan’s late score ensured a Warriors win that keeps them flying high in the URC table.

Here are five things we learned from a chilly afternoon in Italy.

Smith comes prepared for the conditions

Franco Smith had to wriggle his way through a wall of hugs and handshakes on his way up to the technical box before the match, the South African being a hugely popular in Veneto after his spells here as a player and coach.

But the home fans soon got a not-so-welcome reminder of why the Glasgow coach is so respected.

The Warriors game plan was perfectly executed in the first half of a wet and cold day in Treviso, with Jamie Dobie and Ross Thompson orchestrating a short kicking game that kept them on top in the territory battle and forced errors to keep the scoreboard ticking over on a day when flash handling was in short supply.  

Scotland Rugby News: Jamie Dobie and Ross Thompson kicked well for GlasgowJamie Dobie and Ross Thompson kicked well for Glasgow (Image: Shutterstock)

Warriors hang on despite rising penalty count and Sordoni yellow

Despite Glasgow’s impressive start, their lack of discipline, particularly in the second half, will be a cause for concern and allowed Benetton back into the game.

As the minutes ticked on, the penalty count kept rising against the Warriors, hitting double figures before an hour had been played, and finishing on 13 to Benetton’s six, with Lucio Sordoni also spending time in the sin bin for foul play after catching Thomas Gallo in the face with his arm.

The decisions going against Glasgow at the breakdown and at scrum time gave the hosts a platform on which to build a comeback that could have been completed on another day.

Glasgow go where no team has gone before

League fixtures in Six Nations fallow weeks can often be looked at through a different lens, with so many players missing out through international duty or injury – in Glasgow’s case on Saturday, nine of each.

But while the short-staffed Warriors named three hookers in their matchday squad for the trip to Italy, and Benetton also had a large number of Azzurri stars missing, there was no doubting the scale of this achievement.

Benetton were unbeaten all season at the Stadio Monigo in all competitions and had not lost at home since March 2023 against the Lions.

Not only that, but this was a statement victory against a direct rival for URC play-off positions, and one that earned Glasgow an eight-point cushion over the Italians.  

Matthews for Scotland calls only growing louder

Scotland may be blessed with strong stocks of hookers at the moment, with George Turner and Ewan Ashman the current favoured duo by Gregor Townsend, but the case for Johnny Matthews’ involvement in the international squad is growing week on week.

His outrageous try-scoring exploits have of course hogged the headlines; Matthews’ opportunistic dive over the line from an overthrown Benetton lineout took his tally to a league-high 11 for the season.

But the 30-year-old also showed off his all-round game in an energetic performance, winning turnovers, making carries, hitting rucks, flying into tackles and nailing his arrows at lineout time.

A player in form this good simply can’t be ignored for long, surely.

Man of the match McDowall puts hand up in Tuipulotu's absence

The news of Sione Tuipulotu’s long lay-off came as a blow to club and country alike, with the centre set to miss eight to 12 weeks from the knee injury he sustained during last weekend’s Calcutta Cup win over England.

READ MORE: Sione Tuipulotu ruled out for at least eight weeks

But, as ever, in crisis comes opportunity and McDowall’s man of the match performance in Treviso, where he scored one try and set up another, was an encouraging sign that he can step up in the centre in the Scotland star’s absence.

Whether that will be for country as well as club remains to be seen but, as with Matthews, the Glasgow captain is stating his case on the pitch.