MAGNIFICENT, gutsy Glasgow survived a pummelling and somehow found a way to come out on top of a tense, ferocious struggle in France that revives their Heineken Champions Cup campaign ahead of the return match next week.

“From a character point of view, outstanding, as good as anything we have done,” said head coach Dave Rennie. “We were not as clinical as we needed to be, so we know we can be a lot better, but attitude, character – top-notch.

“It shows we can win ugly, we kicked a fair bit of ball, some good stuff and some that put us under a bit more pressure. Our attack was a big fragmented at times, not patient enough, but we fought our way back into the game and showed a lot of character at key times.

“It was good for us. Winning in France is difficult with the crowds. It is massive. We are happy to grab four but we definitely need to win again next week to be in the race.”

Glasgow looked out of the game until the end of the third quarter when they found their scoring touch, the go-ahead try coming on 63 minutes when Adam Hastings found Kyle Steyn with a perfectly-placed cross-kick, sending the replacement wing haring down the touchline.

He still had a lot of work to do to go past one tackle and outpace the cover but he did it with style and with Hastings adding his third conversion, Glasgow had ridden the ferocity of the home attack and grabbed a vital three-point lead.

They nearly made it four and a bonus point. Aki Seuli, the replacement prop was held up over the line and Tommy Seymour was ruled to have knocked on trying to ground his own kick ahead, but the real drama was still to come.

La Rochelle still had the spirit to launch a final desperate attempt to rescue their own European dreams and it took a superb last-ditch tackle from Ali Price to deny wing Vincent Rattez, setting up a desperate last few minutes.

A La Rochelle penalty would have levelled the scores but, with time running out, the hosts needed to go for broke and instead woke the beast that the Glasgow defence can be. They withstood driving mauls, were penalised in two scrums on their line, saw wave after wave of attacks on their line, but held firm.

It was inspiring, it was gutsy and it worked. La Rochelle kept going for broke and kept getting repulsed in a display of intensity, determination and brutality that could do wonders for the rest of the season if they can keep it up.

“We showed a hell of a lot of character to hang in there. I thought our big men did a great job around our maul D to deny them,” Rennie said.

“The bounce of the ball was all over the show late on, we didn’t get the rub of the green with a couple of those. That was great work from Ali [Price], we were really desperate at key times. We gave up a soft try but for big chunks of the game we defended pretty well.”

If only they had defended like that from the start. It was weak defence that let La Rochelle in for an opening score as Rattez crashed weak tackles before handing on to Dany Priso for the try that cancelled out an early penalty for Hastings. They extended the lead through fly-half Jules Plisson, who landed two more penalties to add to his conversion.

They seemed to have opened out a match-winning lead when Glasgow managed to steal a line-out near their line, only for the ball to bounce free and, as half a dozen players guddled it about, La Rochelle flanker Zeno Kieft grabbed it and crashed over to put his side 12 points ahead.

Glasgow had the spirit to respond, turning down a kickable penalty to go for broke and seeing it pay off when they peeled the maul off the back and captain Callum Gibbins touched down. Hastings’ conversion put the Scots only five points behind at the break but more missed tackles allowed Plisson to add his third penalty before the Glasgow comeback went up a gear.

Wing Niko Matawalu sparked it when he intercepted and raced 60 metres for the try that, with the touchline conversion from Hastings, brought his side within a point.

La Rochelle did increase their lead with Plisson’s fourth penalty but it was the Scots who were threatening more, coming close on a couple of occasions before Steyn was sent clear and the final act of the drama could start in earnest.

Scorers, La Rochelle – Tries: Priso, Kieft. Con: Plisson. Pen: Plisson 4.

Glasgow: Tries: Gibbins, Matawalu, Steyn. Cons: Hastings 3. Pens: Hastings 2.

La Rochelle – K Murimurivalu; V Rattez, J Sinzelle (B Plessis-Couillaud, 53), P Aguillon, P Boudehent ; J Plisson (B James, 65), A Bales (T Kerr Barlow, 53); D Priso (R Wardi, 61) , J-C Orioli (B Lebrun, 79), R Herrera (S Puafisi, 61), T Jolmes (T Lavault, 41), M Tanguy, Z Kieft (P Boudehent, 61), K Gourdon, V Vito (C).

Glasgow Warriors – T Seymour; N Matawalu, N Grigg, S Johnson, DTH van der Merwe (K Steyn, 53); A Hastings, G Horne (A Price, 61); A Allan (A Seuli, 35-41, 53), F Brown (G Turner, 68), Z Fagerson, S Cummings, J Gray, R Wilson (R Harley, 53) , C Gibbins (C) (T Gordon, 73), M Fagerson.

Referee: L Pearce (England)