IDENTICAL early-season records of one win and two losses had the teams within one point of each other in the lower half of the Guinness Pro12, so something had to give last night.
In the end last year’s champions brushed aside ninth-placed Dragons with a bonus-try win but it was a stodgy and unconvincing performance against a stubborn Welsh side unlucky to take nothing from the game.
And there was a moment of high drama when new Warriors signing Taqele Naiyaravoro, perhaps too eager to please on his debut, launched into a dangerous tackle that earned him a yellow card that could so easily have been red.
It didn’t start well for the home side when hooker Pat MacArthur had to leave the pitch after three minutes but it quickly got better as they monopolised the ball for the next ten minutes and stayed inside the Dragons’ 22 until stand-off Rory Clegg knocked over a penalty.
Soon after that Fijian-born Australian international Naiyaravoro, who was roaming all over the pitch looking for work, was almost released on the right wing but was bundled into touch as he hit the accelerator.
Glasgow had one of several let-offs when Dragons stand-off Jason Tovey screwed a 30-metre penalty attempt wide but weren’t so lucky when they failed to deal with a five-metre lineout and some slick Welsh passing saw captain Rynard Landman crash over for a try. Tovey converted.
Clegg then missed a simple penalty before Glasgow conceded a careless turnover on the halfway line. The promise of the early part of the game was fading fast and Dragons were beginning to take control, but Glasgow suddenly sparked into life with a break by inside centre Fraser Lyle.
A penalty was awarded near the posts and skipper Rob Harley opted for the lineout. He took the catch to set up a maul that gave openside flanker Chris Fusaro the try. Clegg converted from the touchline.
Dragons were dogged though, winning a penalty that allowed Tovey a kick for the left wing where Aled Brew went up for the ball and Naiyaravoro had a rush of blood to the head, tackling the player in the air although he seemed well over the line.
The referee produced a yellow card, and Tovey came back for the penalty that made it all square at half -time.
Straight from the restart 14-man Glasgow got a maul rolling that took them into the danger area. A long lineout throw was collected by Alex Dunbar but he ran into a solid defence.
The Dragons were frustrating every Glasgow attempt to shift the ball wide and counter-attacking but the Warriors built momentum and when Naiyaravoro had been cut down metres short, tighthead Zander Fagerson followed up to go over for his first try for the club. Clegg converted.
Glasgow’s Italian flanker Simone Favaro went to the sin bin minutes after coming on as a replacement in the pack. But the Warriors should have made it safe with 10 minutes left when another Fijian Junior Bulumakau won the race to touch down a kick through.
Except the Dragons had different ideas and, as Glasgow let their concentration lapse, winger Ashton Hewitt found space to cross the line unchallenged. Tovey missed the conversion
Glasgow finished with a flourish, spurning a kick at goal to go for the corner and the chance of a bonus try. It duly came from a lineout and unstoppable rolling maul with Favoro redeeming himself by claiming his first try. Clegg converted.
GLASGOW: R Hughes, T Naiyaravoro, A Dunbar (Bulumakau 60), F Lyle. L Jones, R Clegg, G Hart (Blair 50), A Allan (Yanuyanutawa 65), P MacArthur (Scott 3), Z Fagerson (Cusack 65), R Harley (captain), S Cummings, H Blake, (Peterson 76) C Fusaro (Favoro 50), A Ashe.
DRAGONS: C Meyer, A Hewitt, R Wardle (Davies 74), A Warren, A Brew (Scott 56), J Tovey, S Pretorius, B Stankovich (Price 60), E Dee, (Buckley 71) J Harris (Knight), N Crosswell, R Landman (captain) (Screech 29), L Evans, N Cudd, E Jackson (Griffiths 70).