GLASGOW kept their faint hopes of reaching the Rainbow Cup final alive last night with a battling victory in an ill-tempered game against Leinster. The Warriors fought back from a five-point half-time deficit to claim the win that takes them to the top of the table, with Ross Thompson scoring the decisive penalty. They can still be overtaken by Benetton and Munster next weekend, but they deserve immense credit for securing a fourth win in a row.

It took Fraser Brown just four minutes to make a captain’s challenge, for what he thought had been a no-arms tackle on Sam Johnson in midfield. It turned out to have been a fair one, however, which meant the home side were unable to issue another challenge for the remainder of the game.

The Warriors gradually began to make inroads into Leinster territory after that, and Johnson came close to crossing for the opening try only to be held up by several defenders. The score was only delayed, however. Advantage had been played, Brown tapped and went, and although he was held up, Matt Fagerson was up in support to plough over with Rory Darge in support. Ross Thompson converted to make it 7-0.

Leinster had barely featured in attack up to that point, but the score stung them into action, and two minutes later they were level when scrum-half Luke McGrath dashed through a gap in the home defence after his forwards had gained good ground. Ross Byrne added the extras to level the score.

Midway through the half, another break by McGrath appeared to have initiated his side’s second try, finished off by Hugo Keenan. A replay revealed a knock-on in the build-up, so the score was ruled out, but it was an ominous moment nonetheless for Glasgow, whose energy levels had dimmed after a bright start.

After Johnson had to go off because of injury, the Warriors went a man down when Forbes was yellow-carded for an off-the-ball pull on Cian Kelleher’s jersey. Leinster quickly made their advantage pay, with Kelleher himself cutting in off his wing to touch down. Byrne’s conversion attempt crashed back off an upright. 

The last minutes before half-time saw Glasgow mount a decent offensive, and they might have reduced their deficit by three points when awarded a penalty. But they went for touch instead, and were slowly driven back until a knock-on ended their possession.

No sooner had Forbes come back on than Leinster centre Rory O’Loughlin was binned for a team offence - one which gave the home side another penalty in the last play of the half. Again they went to touch and drove the maul through Brown, and again an error - crossing this time - ended their chances of a score, leaving them 12-7 down at the break.

Leinster thought they had stretched that lead early in the second half when Keenan broke through, but the score was chalked off because of obstruction by substitute Andrew Porter on Rob Harley. A minute later the Warriors were level. Forbes broke and fed Adam Hastings, and the full-back provided the scoring pass for Kyle Steyn in the right-hand corner. Thompson was just off target with his attempt to add the two points.

A draw was no good for either team, and as the struggle intensified so did the niggle, with upwards of a dozen players involved in one rammy. Referee Frank Murphy ruled that a neck roll by Wilson had been the cause, and sent the flanker to the bin.

Glasgow responded far better this time to going a man down, and with quarter of an hour to go they regained the lead thanks to a Thompson penalty. 

The teams had played themselves to a virtual standstill by then, but it was Glasgow who had the extra ounce of energy required to hold on for the win. 

Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: Fagerson, Steyn. Con: Thompson. Pen: Thompson.

Leinster: Tries: McGrath, Kelleher. Con: R Byrne.

Glasgow Warriors: A Hastings; K Steyn, N Grigg,  S Johnson (S McDowall 24), C Forbes (N Matawalu 64); R Thompson, G Horne; A Seiuli (T Lambert 58), F Brown (captain) (G Turner 53), E Pieretto (D Rae 69), R Harley (K McDonald 47), S Cummings, R  Wilson, R Darge, M Fagerson (T Gordon 47). Unused substitute: S Kennedy.

Leinster: H Keenan; C Kelleher (J Larmour 66), G Ringrose, R O’Loughlin, J O’Brien; R Byrne, L McGrath (captain); E Byrne (P Dooley 55), R Kelleher (D Sheehan 68), M Bent (A Porter 46), R Molony, J Ryan, J Murphy (R Baird 56), J van der Flier (S Penny 74), C Doris. Unused substitutes: R Osborne, R Russell.

Yellow cards: Glasgow: Forbes 28, Wilson 54. Leinster: R O’Loughlin 38.

Referee: F Murphy (Ireland).