It definitely wasn’t pretty – possibly the ugliest game at Scotstoun since Glasgow moved there – but the Warriors hung on in the difficult conditions for crucial Guinness PRO14 victory over the Ospreys.
Brandon Thomson’s three second half penalties were just enough to lift to Glasgow to end their three-game losing streak in the league and restart their campaign in Conference A.
There was none of the free-flowing rugby Glasgow’s fans are accustomed to seeing with wind and rain sweeping the stadium throughout, but a superior defensive performance in the first half plus turning the screw in the second half with conditions in their favour was just enough.
Thomson’s three penalties – the last a huge nudge from his own half – did the job in the end, but the win was built on the Warriors’ veteran forwards Tim Swinson and Rob Harley, who did the heavy lifting in carrying and especially defence on a foul night.
Big Stafford McDowall was also a standout in midfield for the Warriors, but there were few opportunities for the Warriors’ backs to make ground.
Glasgow surprisingly chose to play into the customary Scotstoun hoolie blowing towards the east stand, and would have been delighted to get out the half with the barest minimum of damage.
The Ospreys did their best to make the least of the elements, starting with a Sam Davies kick from his own half that went dead and succession of wild passes and turnovers as they looked to take advantage.
Even when Glasgow were forced to box kick into the wind twice from their own 22, first Davies and then Tom Habberfield conspired to drop the ball under no pressure whatsoever.
Glasgow’s only real try scoring chance of the first half came when they twice kicked penalties to the corner but Kevin Bryce’s throw was squint on the second and the Ospreys used the wind to clear.
The best Ospreys chance of a try came in 15 minutes when openside Sam Cross broke a tackle in midfield and fed Habberfield, but opposite number Nick Frisby made a magnificent open field tackle to save the try and Niko Matawalu stole the ball on a loose off-load to get the Warriors off the hook.
It took 23 minutes for a kickable penalty chance to come but Sam Davies was wide from 25 metres, although he was finally on target from similar range on the north stand side after 31 minutes to get the scoreboard working at last.
Glasgow had one brief chance when Matawalu pinched loose ball but Nick Grigg’s return pass to the Fijian was wild and forward, and Davies had time to misjudge the wind a second time with his third penalty of the night, leaving the Welsh side with just a 3-0 lead for their half with the favouring wind.
That narrow lead lasted barely a minute of the second half, as Ospreys made no ground with their restart exit, Glasgow drove the lineout into the 22 and won a penalty for collapsing the maul, which Thomson kicked to level the scores.
The powerful McDowall went close on a thundering run only for Ospreys to steal the ball at the line and while the Ospreys’ tenacious defence was holding, they were firmly anchored in their own half with the elements in their faces.
Glasgow’s efforts to break through were fairly laboured against the outstanding Ospreys defence until hooker Scott Baldwin was slow and offside clearing a ruck, and Thomson kicked the Warriors ahead from close range.
From the restart Ospreys regained the ball but were penalised at a ruck just inside the Glasgow half, and the gale carried Thomson’s 55m penalty attempt over the crossbar with plenty to spare for a 9-3 lead.
Matawalu was showing a yellow card for a needless offside near halfway as the game entered the final ten minutes, but Ospreys were snared at the lineout drive by Tim Swinson winning the turnover in the maul.
Ospreys came again after a steal at a lineout and looked to make the extra man count, but Olly Cracknell’s wild and illegal takeout of McDowall at a ruck five metres from the line allowed Glasgow to play out the final seconds.
Glasgow: R Jackson; L Jones, N Grigg, S McDowall, N Matawalu; B Thomson, N Frisby; A Allan, K Bryce, S Halanukonuka; T Swinson, S Cummings; R Harley (capt), M Smith, A Ashe.
Replacements: R Smith for Bryce 77, J Bhatti for Allan 54, D Rae for Halanukonuka 47, T Gordon for Smith 71, A Dunbar for Grigg 71, R Hughes for L Jones 59.
Ospreys: D Evans; H Dirksen, J Kotze, C Allen, L Morgan; S Davies (capt), T Habberfield; G Thomas, S Baldwin, T Botha; L Ashley, J King; O Cracknell, S Cross, R McCusker.
Replacement: R Jenkins for Thomas 59.
Referee: J Lacey (IRFU).