Saracens 33 Glasgow Warriors 31
Saracens confirmed their European superiority over Glasgow Warriors by running in four quality tries to open their Heineken Cup campaign with a narrow victory.
Last season, the sides met three times in the second-tier European Challenge Cup – with Saracens managing two wins and a draw.
This time, the Guinness Premiership club, who picked up what could prove to be an important bonus point in Pool Four, should have had a bigger margin of victory to show for their territorial domination.
Lock Hugh Vyvyan, right-wing Rod Penney, number eight Ben Skirving and left-wing Kameli Ratuvou scored the Saracens tries.
Fly-half Glen Jackson, who was involved in two of them, also contributed 13 points – with two conversions and three penalties.
Glasgow replied with tries from Scotland flanker John Barclay, replacement Hefin O’Hare and captain Alistair Kellock. Fly-half Dan Parks kept them in touch by landing four of his five penalty kicks and two late conversions.
Saracens, trailing to an early Parks penalty, hit Glasgow with a brilliant try in the eighth minutes.
High-speed handling by Penney and lock Kris Chesney, making his 299th first-team appearance for the club, sent Vyvyan in near the posts.
The hosts struck again 13 minutes later with another superbly-executed try.
Jackson was involved twice, finding Andy Farrell and taking the return pass on a looping run to send Penney on a straight run to the line.
Glasgow, trailing 17-3, responded with a fine try – involving a trio of Scottish internationals.
Parks and centre Andrew Henderson combined to put flanker Barclay over in the left-hand corner.
But Saracens, winners of four of their six Premiership matches this season, threatened for a time to run away.
Penney was denied his second try when French referee Romain Poite ruled that Jackson’s long final pass was marginally forward.
Prop Kevin Yates, 35 this week, was deprived of an early birthday present when sheer force of Glasgow numbers prevented him from grounding the ball after crashing over the line.
But the respite was short-lived for the Warriors.
From the resulting scrum, the Saracans pack pushed their Glasgow counterparts backwards over their own line for Skirving to touch down.
The bonus point was secured when Jackson, Kevin Sorrell and Farrell – showing no after effects from the World Cup where a calf injury cost him his England place in the knockout stages – swept the ball wide for Fijian international Ratuvou to score try number four in the left-hand corner.
Argentinian full-back Francisco Leonelli almost got in on the scoring act, but his powerful run ended when he was hauled down just short of the Warriors line.
The Scottish side refused to throw in the towel, salvaging a late losing bonus point with tries by O’Hare and Kellock – with only Jackson’s third penalty keeping Saracens’ noses in front.