A MISSED drop goal on full time by Leinster out-half Isa Nacewa helped give Glasgow victory in a match dominated by the Irish province, but conceded to a home side that grew in confidence after the break.
But new coach Joe Schmidt can take much from the performance of a side that was missing its experienced core of players. Impressive last night at Firhill was flanker Dominic Ryan, while there was confirmation from Leinster scrum-half Isaac Boss that his acquisition from Ulster has been a useful transfer.
Both sides eased themselves into the game and after five minutes it was 3-3 with a penalty apiece from Fergus McFadden and Ruaridh Jackson.
But the even nature of the opening minutes was soon shattered as Leinster turned up the heat with impressive handling rugby that created scoring chances first for Shane Horgan and then Sean O’Brien.
Then when Jamie Heaslip and Boss combined, another try beckoned. Again there was no touchdown but this time Leinster profited from a penalty award and a second successful kick from McFadden.
With the first quarter coming to its end, flanker Dominic Ryan seemingly claimed the game’s first try from Heaslip’s pass only for referee Tim Hayes to call a forward pass.
Against the run of play Glasgow levelled the scores with a second Jackson penalty goal. But the home side were immediately rocked by a shock try from an overthrow at their own line-out that went to Heaslip, whose carefully-judged pass gave Ryan a 45-metre run to the line for an unconverted try.
Six minutes before the break Leinster increased their lead with something of a farcical try that stemmed from Glasgow’s poor control of the ball at the scrum, allowing Boss and cohort Heaslip to attack.
When the ball was kicked forward it rebounded behind the Glasgow try-line in the manner of a pin-ball game but Boss kept his eye on the ball to touch down, giving Leinster a 16-6 interval advantage.
Leinster’s lead was reduced by a Jackson penalty while replacement John Fogarty was sin-binned after only one minute on the field. Glasgow garnered no further points in the hooker’s absence, but crucially began to build a winning momentum that converted into points with a try in the corner by DTH Van Der Merwe.
Teenage out-half Duncan Weir, who had just come on as a substitute, put over the touchline conversion to level the scores before giving Glasgow the lead for the first time in the match with a drop goal.
Almost immediately out-half Nacewa took over the goal-kicking duties from McFadden, who had been replaced, and he brought the scores level again with a penalty goal.
But four minutes before full time, Weir kicked a penalty goal to regain the lead for Glasgow.
Leinster tried desperately to hit back and look set to draw the match when Nacewa attempted a drop goal.
The ball drifted wide of the right upright and Leinster’s final chance had gone leaving Glasgow happy but surprised winners.
Scorers for Glasgow Warriors: DTH Van Der Merwe try; R Jackson 3 pens; D Weir con, pen, drop goal.
Scorers for Leinster: D Ryan, I Boss try each; F McFadden 2 pens; I Nacewa pen.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: B Stortoni; DTH Van Der Merwe, M Evans, G Morrison, F Aramburu (H O’Hare 71), R Jackson (D Weir 65), H Pyrgos; J Welsh (R Grant 40), F Thomson (P McArthur 58), M Low, T Ryder (A Muldowney 6), R Gray, R Wilson (R Harley 50), C Forrester, R Vernon
LEINSTER: L Fitzgerald; S Horgan (I Madigan 54), E O’Malley, F McFadden (E Sheridan 69), N Morris; I Nacewa, I Boss; H Van Der Merwe, R Strauss (J Fogarty 48), S Shawe (B Prescott 46), N Hines, E O’Donaghue, D Ryan, S O’Brien, J Heaslip (S Keogh 64).
Referee T Hayes (WRU).