TWO wins out of three, 11 points in the bag. Glasgow’s start to life in the United Rugby Championship has been a highly encouraging one, and they will be odds on to  make it three wins out of four when they visit Zebre on Saturday.

Not that there was anything straightforward about this victory over the Lions. The South African side were behind as early as the second minute, at which point they must have feared they were in for a long and punishing afternoon at the hands of the Warriors attack. But, aided by the dreich weather, they were able to deny the home side time after time in the first half after that early setback, and held genuine hopes of claiming something greater than a losing bonus point from the game right  up to the final play.

Given those circumstances, it was a delighted Danny Wilson who summed up the match afterwards, with the head coach laying particular emphasis on the character shown by his team after they had to dig deep in the second half. “The character element of it was pleasing,” he said. “We had to dig in. We could have folded a little bit at the end, but we didn’t.

“We dug in and got the win – and that’s 11 points from the first three games. We’ve gone to Ulster and played two big South African teams who we didn’t know much about. So it’s a good start.

“Our character defensively in our own 22 was much better than last week,” Wilson continued, referring to the home win against the Sharks that saw his side struggle late in the game after dominating the first 50 minutes. “We worked harder and kept the opposition out.

‘We played so well in the first half and created so much, but it was a little bit forced with the offloads. We were trying to force the issue when we should have been more patient.

“In the second half, the weather came in and there were more scrums. We didn’t want that, because we knew the scrum was a really powerful weapon for them.

“The game died a death a little bit in the second half, a little bit like last week. But we looked really dangerous in the first half.”

They did more than look dangerous, turning threat into points as early as  the second

minute. Jamie Bhatti marked his 50th appearance for the Warriors by touching down from close range after a penalty had been sent to touch and the lineout driven for the line. Thompson added the conversion, but the Lions were soon off the mark too when EW Viljoen was on target with a penalty from around 35 metres.

When the visitors’ defence was penalised for not rolling away, Thompson scored to put them seven points behind again. But a second penalty from Viljoen reduced the gap to four points again with almost half an hour played and although some inspired footwork from Rufus McLean then came close to securing a second Glasgow try, the Lions were able to snuff out that and other dangers in what remained of the first half. 

They were also capable of mounting some enterprising attacks of their own, and when one early in the second half was ended by a high tackle from Jack Dempsey, Viljoen converted the penalty from the 10-metre line to make it a one-point contest. 

Sione Tuipulotu had replaced Sam Johnson late in the first half after the starting centre had sustained a head knock, and Matt Fagerson came on for Dempsey ten minutes into the second half as the home team struggled to impose themselves. 

A Viljoen penalty attempt from a metre inside his own half fell short, tand as it transpired, the Lions did not get as close to scoring again. With eight minutes  to play, their defence conceded a penalty inside their own 22, and Thompson made no mistake. There was still a lot of rugby to be played at that point,  but the Warriors retained their composure and closed the game out.

Scorers: Glasgow: Try: Bhatti. Con: Thompson. Pens: Thompson 2. 

Lions: Pens: Viljoen 3.

Glasgow Warriors: C Forbes; K Steyn, N Grigg, S Johnson (S Tuipulotu 37), R McLean (D Weir 68); R Thompson, J Dobie (G Horne 48); J Bhatti (B Thyer 75), F Brown (capt, J Matthews 62)), M McCallum (M Walker 51), L Bean (R Harley 59), R Gray, R Wilson, R Darge, J Dempsey (M Fagerson 51). 

Lions: D Rossouw; S Pienaar, M Rass, B Odendaal (captain), R Maxwane; E Viljoen, A Warner; S Sithole (M Naude 67), J Visagie (PJ Botha 72), J du Plessis, R Schoeman, P Janse van Vuren (W Simelane 80), J Kriel (S Sangweni 61), V Tshituka (R Nothnagel 72), R Straeuli. 

Referee: G Gnecchi (FIR).

Attendance: 6,096.