For the second week running, this was a game which Glasgow could, and arguably should, have had in the bag by half-time. But unlike their victory over the Sharks seven days earlier, it was also a match which they were in danger of having snatched from them at the death.
That the Warriors held on for a narrow but deserved victory spoke volumes for the character they showed in adversity, against opponents who fell behind very early but were never entirely out of the running. It also demonstrated to Danny Wilson’s satisfaction that his team continue to make progress along the lines he has demanded, principally by digging in and finding more mundane ways to emerge victorious when their flamboyance and firepower have failed to floor their opponents.
“Our character defensively in our own 22 was much better than last week,” the head coach said. “We worked harder and kept the opposition out.
‘We played so well in the first half and created so much, but it was a little bit forced with the offloads. We were trying to force the issue when we should have been more patient.
“In the second half, the weather came in and there were more scrums. We didn’t want that, because we knew the scrum was a really powerful weapon for them.
“The game died a death a little bit in the second half, a little bit like last week. But we looked really dangerous in the first half.
“The character element of it was pleasing. We had to dig in. We could have folded a little bit at the end, but we didn’t.
“We dug in and got the win – and that’s 11 points from the first three games. We’ve gone to Ulster and played two big South African teams who we didn’t know much about. So it’s a good start.”
It was a good start for Jamie Bhatti all right, as the prop celebrated his 50th appearance for the team by touching down in the second minute. Ross Thompson converted, and it looked like we were in for an entertaining if one-sided afternoon of attacking improvisation. But the Lions proved a far tougher nut to crack after that early setback for them, and two penalties from stand-off EW Viljoen either side of one from Thompson ensured that the South Africans remained well in touch at the break.
After playing second if not third fiddle for the first 40, the Lions steadily grew stronger in the second half, on several occasions threatening to break through and claim the try that would have put them in front for the first time in the match.
In the end, however, they had to make do with a penalty, awarded after one of their attacks was ended by a high tackle from Jack Dempsey,.Viljoen was on target again with the boot to make it just 10-9 to the Warriors.
Another Viljoen penalty attempt from a metre inside his own half fell short., but after that escape, Glasgow gradually fought back. When they were awarded a penalty deep inside the opposition half with eight minutes to play, Thompson made no mistake. There was still a lot of hard work to be done at that point, but the Warriors were equal to the challenge.
Scorers: Glasgow: Try Bhatti. Con: Thompson. Pens: Thompson 2.
Lions: Pens: Viljoen 3.
Glasgow Warriors: C Forbes; K Steyn, N Grigg, S Johnson (S Tuipulotu 37), R McLean (D Weir 68); R Thompson, J Dobie (G Horne 48); J Bhatti (B Thyer 75), F Brown (capt, J Matthews 62)), M McCallum (M Walker 51), L Bean (R Harley 59), R Gray, R Wilson, R Darge, J Dempsey (M Fagerson 51).
Lions: D Rossouw; S Pienaar, M Rass, B Odendaal (captain), R Maxwane; E Viljoen, A Warner; S Sithole (M Naude 67), J Visagie (PJ Botha 72), J du Plessis, R Schoeman, P Janse van Vuren (W Simelane 80), J Kriel (S Sangweni 61), V Tshituka (R Nothnagel 72), R Straeuli.