Glasgow moved into second place in the United Rugby Championship, for the time being at least, with a 38-26 victory over Zebre at Scotstoun this evening, but the Warriors were made to fight all the way by the league’s basement side.  

Many Glasgow fans expected a big score against the lowly Italians and that prediction looked on when Jamie Bhatti drove over from a maul inside three minutes.  

Zebre had the best of the game for a spell thereafter, and fly-half Giovanni Montemauri put the visitors on the board with a penalty.  

A second Montemauri penalty on 24 minutes cut the gap to a point, before a Kyle Rowe try was chalked off by the TMO and Sione Tuipulotu was held up over the line.  

But Glasgow’s lead was extended nine minutes before the break, Matthews with his seemingly customary score from another maul.  

A penalty from Jacopo Trulla cut the gap further before Montemauri stunned Scotstoun by scoring on half-time to give Zebre a shock 16-12 interval lead.  

Rowe got his name on the scoresheet early in the second period as the hosts reclaimed the lead, but that was only momentary reprieve as Bautista Stavile intercepted a pass from Rory Darge to put the Italians back in front.  

Like Rowe, Cancelliere was not to be denied, getting on the end of Ross Thompson’s long pass for the bonus point score. Another sub, George Horne, added the extras to fire Glasgow ahead on the hour.  

Montemauri landed another penalty before a second Matthews try put Glasgow back ahead with 15 minutes to go before Tom Jordan’s try in the 80th minute put the gloss on Glasgow’s win.  

Here are five things we learned from a tense evening at Scotstoun.  

A step up required, but nobody needs a cricket score 

This was meant to be a valuable outing for some first-choice combinations. The props, back-row and centres that started this match are all likely to start next Saturday’s quarter-final.  

The final home game of the regular season was not meant to play out like this, but running in a load of tries against the league’s bottom side serves nobody any good.

Glasgow will have learned from this and know they'll need a massive improvement in performance if they are to make it through the last eight next weekend.  

Glasgow’s maul a barometer of the performance 

The hosts’ maul is among the best in the league and was bolstered by the return of Richie Gray after four months out. When they needed it most tonight, behind on the scoreboard with 15 minutes to go, they got it moving and Matthews crashed over. But it wasn’t perfect, like most things the Warriors tried.  

Zebre defy league position 

The Italians travelled to Scotstoun knowing only an unlikely win would keep them from finishing bottom of the pile, but they gave it everything and pushed the Warriors all the way. Fullback Trulla, blindside Giacomo Ferrari and prop Danilo Fischetti were all excellent.  

It looked like the visitors ran out of steam in the final quarter of an hour, much to sighs of relief all round among the Glasgow supporters. 

Big moments from Kyle Rowe  

If captain Kyle Steyn is fit for next weekend, Franco Smith has a decision to make about who plays on the opposite wing. Sebastian Cancelliere has been excellent for the past two seasons, but on the strength of his showing here, Rowe has to be involved.  

He’s quick and possesses terrific footwork, but he doesn’t shirk his defensive responsibilities either. An excellent cover tackle on Trulla proved decisive tonight. 

Patience paid off 

If some of Glasgow’s supporters were puffing their cheeks and beginning to worry when Zebre refused to go away, the players managed not to panic. They kept plugging away and got their reward with a couple of late scores that ultimately took the game away from the Italian side.  

Glasgow Warriors: Kyle Rowe, Facundo Cordero (Horne 48), Huw Jones (Jordan 62), Sione Tuipulotu (c), Sebastian Cancelliere, Duncan Weir (Thompson 48), Jamie Dobie; Jamie Bhatti (McBeth 48), Johnny Matthews (Hiddleston 70), Zander Fagerson (Kebble 70), Max Williamson (Cummings 17), Richie Gray (Ferrie 62), Matt Fagerson, Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey 

Tries: Bhatti (3), Matthews (31, 65), Rowe (47), Cancelliere (58), Jordan (80) 

Conversions: Weir (4, 48), Horne (59, 65, 80) 

Zebre: Jacopo Trulla, Pierre Bruno, Luca Morisi (c), Damiano Mazza (Paea 56), Simone Gesi, Giovanni Montemauri (Eden 66), Alessandro Fusco (Jelic 31); Danilo Fischetti, Giampietro Ribaldi (Di Bartolomeo 56), Muhamed Hasa (Genovese 66), Matteo Canali (Sisi 54), Leonard Krumov, Giacomo Ferrari, Bautista Stavile, Davide Ruggeri (Fox-Matamua 51) 

Tries: Montemauri (40), Stavile (50) 

Conversions: Montemauri (40, 50) 

Penalties: Montemauri (12, 24, 62); Trulla (38) 

Referee: Peter Martin (Ireland) 

Player of the Match: Rory Darge