WHAT a thriller. In their first season of professional rugby the Borders, with this victory at Netherdale last night, have won a place in next season's Heineken Cup.

A try two minutes from full time by Nikki Walker sealed the all-important win that the home team had thoroughly deserved. It was a score born deep in their own half and which was sparklingly finished off by the Scotland winger.

Rob Moffat, the Borders' assistant coach said: ''This was a good win but we created so many chances that we should have really doubled the try count. The players were still a bit rusty after such a long lay-off but we want to play against the big boys in the country, so getting into the Heineken Cup next season is a major boost. I also hope that we can attract even bigger crowds than we had tonight.''

Richie Dixon, Glasgow's interim coach, was less elated: ''It was disappointing in the end because in the last phase of the game we had the field position to go ahead and win it. I thought the game was won and lost up front, where Borders were sharper and hungrier.

''We didn't play all that well but we were certainly out of contention. I think Glasgow still have more to give and I'm looking forward to working with them in the next two weeks.

''But all praise to the Borders because to qualify for the Heineken Cup is a notable achieve ment.''

Fly-half Gregor Townsend had a fine match for the home team, his most polished performance for some time, and Borders were unlucky to lose their inspirational full-back Tanner Vili, named as man of the match, at a crucial stage. Captain Doddie Weir was a tower of strength in the home pack with solid support from Scotland prop Bruce Douglas. Campbell Feather was the pick of the back rows.

Glasgow were no disgrace to their caretaker coach Dixon but they simply didn't have the same class behind the scrum.

Calvin Howarth kicked well and Rory Kerr looked full of running on his wing berth. Jason White - back from injury - was a powerful figure in their pack with Gordon Bulloch his usual competitive self.

There was plenty of excitement in a lively first half as both sides sought to spin the ball. Howarth kicked Glasgow ahead with an early penalty but the lead was short-lived.

Walker almost began as he ended, being over the line before knocking on. A minute later Townsend released centre Gareth Morton and the Borders had their first try on the board. Vili converted and kicked the penalty when the Glasgow backs were offside.

There didn't seem a lot on as Andy Henderson collected in midfield. A shimmy and a sprint found a gap and the centre claimed Glasgow's opening touchdown. Howarth's conversion tied the scores.

Townsend was obviously in the mood and his break should have produced another home try. Instead, Howarth kicked the visitors ahead after a ruck offence.

Vili was the most exciting back afield and danced round several would-be tacklers. From the resulting ruck Bruce Douglas grabbed a rare try.

His celebrations didn't last too long. On the half-hour he was sent to the sin-bin for preventing release. Just in case he was lonely, Kerr, an unlikely culprit, joined him for stamping.

Vili banged over another penalty but the Borders' discipline let them down again. They protested about a penalty which cost them 10 metres and gave Howarth the chance to kick his third penalty and there were just two points in it at the interval.

After the break, a good run from inside his own 22 by Vili, which ultimately led to a try by Feather was, sadly to be the full-back's last contribution as he was led away with a leg injury. Scott Paterson took over and was soon clearing his line with some authority.

Glasgow were not giving up - one thumping tackle by Joe Naufahu leaving Kevin Utterson dazed - as the 3000 plus crowd enjoyed the exchanges as the fortunes ebbed and flowed. Then Utterson was almost clear but some desperate Glasgow defending kept him out.

Next, Townsend's pass to Morton, which put him clear, was judged to have gone forward before Howarth kicked a fourth penalty for Glasgow but Borders were unlucky to be deprived of another try.

Scrum-half Ian Fairley appeared to have won the chase for the touchdown but the ref ruled Howarth had got a hand to the ball. Then Morton missed a sitter of a penalty before the frantic finale.

Borders T Vili (Paterson 42); N Walker, Morton, K Utterson, C Moir (S Cranston 58); G Townsend, I Fairley; P Thomson, S Scott (S Gunn 63), B Douglas, D Weir, C Stewart, A Renwick, C Feather, S Sititi

Glasgow G Metcalfe; J Steel, J Naufahu, A Henderson, R Kerr; C Howarth, G Beveridge; C Blades (D Hilton 57), G Bulloch, L Harrison, N Ross (R McKay 67), A Hall, J White, A Wilson (R Reid 40), J Petrie

Referee G Ashton-Jones (RFU)

Scoring sequence: (Borders first) 0-3, 7-3, 10-3, 10-10, 10-13, 15-13, 18-13, 18-16, (half-time) 23-16, 23-19, 28-19

Scorers. Borders.Tries Morton 6, Douglas 27, Feather 42, Walker 78 Con Vili 36 Pen Vili (0

Glasgow. Tries Henderson 10 Con Howarth 10 Pens Howarth 3, 25, 38, 67