Glasgow scored the four tries they needed for an essential bonus point but couldn’t force the win as honours were shared in a thrilling Heineken Cup contest with Exeter at Scotstoun.
Both sides got the try bonus point for three group points each, which leaves Exeter the winners of the pool and Glasgow’s hopes of a quarter-final hanging by the slimmest of threads. The Warriors need to win with a bonus at Sale next week and hope an unlikely series of results in other pools go their way.
Stuart Hogg, who otherwise had an anonymous game on his return to Scotstoun, could have beaten his old team with the final kick, an enormous penalty from his own half with the strong wind at his back that came back off the crossbar.
But the result as it stood was already hard on the Warriors, who were the more enterprising and attacking team, and that would have been a blow too far.
The home side attacked from the outset for two early tries and came from behind to tie the game twice, but there were a host of missed chances, two important yellow cards against them and once again a Scottish team struggled to get on the good side of veteran French referee Romain Poite, whose questionable decisions at the scrum in particular didn’t help the home side.
Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, George Horne and Niko Matawalu scored the Warriors’ tries with Adam Hastings kicking a penalty and four conversions, although he missed a drop goal chance. Exeter’s tries came from one breakaway and three from their forwards’ relentless driving game.
A large portion of the sellout crowd hadn’t even reached their seats when Glasgow scored straight out of the box, Hastings starting an attack on halfway down the narrow side.
Sam Johnson and Fraser Brown swiftly moved the ball on to Seymour, who chipped over Ollie Woodburn, beat Scotland mate Hogg to the perfect bounce and went in for the score, converted by his stand-off.
Glasgow messed up the restart and conceded a penalty kicked by Joe Simmonds, but they went straight back up the field, won a scrum on the 22, and after a few hit-ups Jones came on to a pass out the back and darted between defenders for the second try, again converted by Hastings.
The Warriors were flying but they went too far on the next attack, Johnson’s loose pass going to ground and Nick White pouncing and returning it 70 metres under the posts for a gift score converted by Simmonds.
Brown’s forcing of a penalty on the 22 as Exeter tried to exit allowed Hastings to kick Glasgow back to 17-10 ahead, but the key moment of the half came just three minutes later when Callum Gibbins went into a ruck elbow first, and was probably lucky the decision was just a yellow card.
Exeter seized their chance immediately, kicking to the corner and driving relentlessly for Matt Kvesic’s try to level the scores.
Then three minutes before half-time Jack Nowell escaped down the flank and the Chiefs were in business in the Warriors 22 again, Jacques Vermeulen crashing over for a third Exeter try, Simmonds converting again.
Hogg’s fumble of the restart nearly gave Glasgow a chance to get back on terms but Hastings’ clever chip behind the defence wouldn’t sit up for Kyle Steyn and Exeter regrouped.
But the home side managed to level thanks to their two young half-backs, Hastings cutting through a huge gap and finding Horne on his inside, the scrum-half just managing to wriggle over under the sticks, and it was 24-24 at the break with the conversion.
Glasgow could have been away and clear early in the second half but there was simply no luck for Huw Jones.
Twice the centre chased through, first after a Steyn kick and then after his own hack of an Exeter pass going to ground, but both times the ball wouldn’t sit up for him with the line wide open.
A dubious penalty at the scrum when the Chiefs front row looked to be walking around got the Chiefs out of further trouble in their 22 and they went upfield to clinch the try bonus point they needed to win the group.
Winning turnover ball in the middle of the field they pounded with phase after phase, forcing a yellow card to Fraser Brown, and eventually Kvesic went over under the posts with their fourth try.
But a fine run in open field from Kyle Steyn got the Warriors going again, a penalty pinned Exeter back in their corner, and the Warriors’ maul overwhelmed the Chiefs with replacement Matawalu the surprise scorer at the back of it, Hastings levelling the scores yet again with the touchline conversion.
Another penalty on the deck, won by George Taylor, got Glasgow back in the Exeter 22 but Hastings’ wide miss-pass was ruled forward and Johnson’s go-ahead try was chalked off.
That was Glasgow’s last chance as Exeter appeared happy to play for the draw with the group already won, until another questionable scrum penalty gave Hogg, of all people, a final chance with a monster 65 metre penalty that rebounded off the crossbar.
Glasgow: G Bryce; T Seymour, H Jones, S Johnson, K Steyn; A Hastings, G Horne; O Kebble, F Brown, Z Fagerson; S Cummings, J Gray; R Wilson, C Gibbins, M Fagerson.
Replacements: G Turner for Brown 60, A Seiuli for Kebble 56, A Nicol, R Harley for M Fagerson 40, C Fusaro for Gibbins 72, A Price for G Horne 66, P Horne, N Matawalu for Seymour 53.
Exeter: S Hogg; J Nowell, I Whitten, O Devoto, O Woodburn; J Simmonds, N White; A Hepburn, L Cowan-Dickie, R Pieretto; J Kirsten, S Lonsdale; D Ewers, J Vermeulen, M Kvesic.
Replacements: E Taione for Cowan-Dickie 78, B Moon for Hepburn 63, M Street for Pieretto 54, W Witty for Kirsten 67, S Hill for Devoto 65.
Ref: R Poite (FFR)