Glasgow claimed a place in the Celtic League's last eight at Hughenden last night and almost as importantly demonstrated that there is now real steel behind the style which has made them one of British rugby's most attractive sides over the past two seasons.

On a night which demonstrated that tries are not required to produce a thrilling rugby spectacle, a near-capacity crowd of 5375 becaming increasingly involved in a match in which all the scoring was done by the boots of the two stand-offs, but which was dominated by the conditions on a miserably wet night and the heroic defending of both sides.

It could hardly have been more tense as Llanelli drove relentlessly forward, recycling ball repeatedly throughout a period of injury time which saw Jason White, a key member of an outstanding Glasgow pack, sent to the sin-bin.

Admittedly their chances of a home draw in the quarter-finals receded on the night since they left Ulster needing only to win by five points at Pontypridd today to edge past them and claim second place in Pool A.

However, that was a minor consideration as they fought desperately to stay in the competition in a week which had seen Edinburgh bundled out at Cardiff.

What was most important of all, though, was the manner of the victory as Richie Dixon, Glasgow's coach, acknowledged.

''That was probably the biggest and heaviest side we've played and we've proved tonight that we can dog it out in that sort of match,'' he said.

''We have developed a reputation for an adventurous form of rugby, but what was most impressive this time was the way people put their bodies on the line even when Llanelli maintained the intensity in the closing stages.''

Though by no means on top Glasgow led at the end of the first quarter, late tackles on Gordon Simpson and Glenn Metcalfe producing penalties which saw Tommy Hayes nudge them ahead with a brace of penalties.

The second of those was cancelled out immediately from the re-start, however, as Simpson claimed the kick-off ball but then ran directly into two of his own men to be penalised for obstruction, Stephen Jones putting over the penalty.

With their scrummage in some difficulty against the powerful Llanelli front five, Glasgow were unable to inject the pace into the game that has become their hallmark for much of the first half.

Towards the end of it, though, they began to look a little more like the side that had passed the half century mark in its last two Hughenden outings, results which sandwiched an impressive triumph at Swansea last weekend.

They were also given a potential boost when, just before the break, Simon Easterby was sin-binned for foolishly speaking out of turn.

Yet Llanelli claimed what looked an important first score of the second half as they set up a drop goal opportunity for Jones.

The stand-off had done much of the work to get them there, kicking intelligently behind defenders to keep them turning on the slippery surface.

When Glasgow did battle their way in to the Welsh half Hayes took full advantage of another penalty opportunity after the visitors killed the ball at a ruck, striking it sweetly into the wind from just inside the 10 metre line.

The home crowd also made their presence felt, their cries of ''offside'' helping alert the officials to Wayne Proctor having begun his pursuit of a well- weighted Jones chip from in front of the kicker.

Then, when his front-row turned the tables by forcing Llanelli to collapse a scrum, Hayes extended the lead.

It looked as if Llanelli were becoming too desperate when, awarded a penalty inside their own half, they opted to kick at goal yet while Jones' unimpressive looking effort never got more than 12 feet off the ground it somehow found its way over.

By that stage the Welshmen were visibly tiring, however, which was particularly noticeable in the scrums and mauls, particularly after Dave Hilton replaced Cameron Blades to add fresh muscle to proceedings.

The pressure told as Llanelli crept offside at a ruck inside their own 22 and Hayes hit the target once again with what proved to be the last scoring act of the match.

It was, though, far from the end of the drama as the Welsh side dug deep to throw everything at their hosts late in the game only to find that there was no way through.

Glasgow G Metcalfe; J Steel, J McLaren, A Henderson (J Stuart 67min), R Kerr; T Hayes, A Nicol; C Blades (D Hilton 67), G Bulloch, L Harrison, N Ross (A Hall 67-78), J White, G Simpson, G Flockhart, J Petrie

Llanelli B Davies; W Proctor, S Finau, L Davies, M Cardey; S Jones, G Easterby; M Madden, R McBryde, J Davies, S Morgan, L Gross, C Wyatt, S Easterby, D Hodges

Referee D Tyndall (Ireland)

Scoring sequence (Glasgow first) 3-0, 6-0, 6-3 (half-time) 6-6, 9-6, 12-6, 12-9

Scorers: Glasgow: Penalties Hayes (5). Llanelli: Drop goals Jones. Penalties Jones (2)