Glasgow Warriors v Exeter Chiefs
Glasgow Warriors' bid to secure a morale-boosting win in their last warm-up fixture ahead of the 2012/13 season ran aground against a streetwise and relentless Exeter Chiefs outfit at Millbrae on Thursday night.
Although disappointed with the outcome, Gregor Townsend's men could take satisfaction from the fact that their performance was significantly improved in several key areas from the defeat at Sale last Saturday.
The Warriors defensive line was infinitely more solid than was the case in Cheshire, while their overall match sharpness and game awareness were also that bit more impressive.
There were a number of impressive individual shifts in defeat, captain Finlay Gillies producing a tireless shift at hooker, Fraser Thomson showing some nice touches at full-back and flanker Adam Ashe also to the fore.
The Elite Development back-rower started the game on the blindside flank after Rob Harley was withdrawn as a precaution with a minor groin strain. He more than held his own against experienced English Premiership company, and showed why shouldn't be discounted in the breakaway selection battle going forward.
Attention now turns to the Warriors" opening RaboDirect PRO12 match of the new campaign, away to Ulster on Friday 31 August, the prelude to the very first game at Scotstoun, against Scarlets on Friday 7 September.
Listen to head coach Gregor Townsend's reaction
It was a dreich old night in Ayrshire, but that didn't stop an enthusiastic crowd of nearly 1,500 people turning out.
Exeter were quick to underline their power up front, and regularly sought to chisel their way through, rather than round, the Glasgow defence.
One such manouvre brought a third minute penalty for a home offside, but stand-odd Ignacio Mieres didn't quite get his angles right and the scoreboard remained blank.
Still the visitors pressed, and a rumbling maul got up a hint of momentum before the Chiefs spun the ball to the left wing. Warriors wideman Tommy Seymour showed admirable presence of mind to shoot up and snuff out the danger, to the noisy acclaim of the Glasgow fans massed on the grass bank behind him.
The former Ulster player was again to the fore shortly after as Mieres tried to force the issue with a chip kick to the corner. Seymour was determined to get to the ball ahead of his opposite number, and managed to touch it down before any real damage could be done.
The Warriors took some time to grow into the game as an attacking force, a couple of flashes of pace down the left from DTH van der Merwe the only real highlights in the opening half hour
That changed in the period immediately prior to the interval, stand-off Duncan Weir beginning to get the backline moving and mixing up the play with a number of intelligent grubber kicks.
The tyro secured the first points of the game right on the stroke of half-time when Exeter were pulled up for boring into a scrum, allowing him to nonchalantly strike the ball between the sticks from a central position.
HALF-TIME: GLASGOW WARRIORS 3-0 EXETER CHIEFS
Just as they had in the opening period, the Chiefs were quick off the mark in the second half, altering their tactics to put the emphasis on recycling the ball as opposed to kicking it away.
Mieres passed up another two eminently kickable penalty opportunities, clattering the second off the post. Unfortunately for the Warriors, they couldn't clear their lines after this latest let-off, and Exeter hooker Chris Whitehead made it across the whitewash from close range.
The setback seemed to re-energise Glasgow, who immediately put together their most coherent attacking move of the night. Replacement Graeme Morrison lit the blue touch paper, surging up the left before play was worked left to Fraser Thomson.
The summer Elite Development acquisition from Melrose made some ground of his own, creating scope for van der Merwe to lunge unsuccessfully for the line, before referee Andrew McMenemy called the players back for a previous Exeter offside.
Weir did the necessary from out left, but couldn't quite repeat the trick shortly afterwards on the back of enterprising play from Peter Murchie that drew another offside.
The pivot was equally unlucky moments later from the other side of the pitch, and Glasgow were soon made to pay a heavy price.
More insistent work from the Exeter pack saw them move inexorably closer to the Warriors line, and substitute James Hanks finally broke the home resistance.
Gareth Steenson converted to put the Chiefs 12-6 up, and the kicker added a penalty right at the very death to tie things up for the visitors.