AFTER spending much of the season apparently in the fight for a top-four finish and a home play-off, Glasgow are now at risk of dropping out of the URC’s top eight altogether after a second defeat on South African soil.

The Warriors put in a more consistent effort against the Bulls in Pretoria last night than they had done against the Stormers in Cape Town a week earlier, but the end result was the same: zero points. They may now have to beat Edinburgh on 21 May in the final game of the regular season if they are to make it into the play-offs at all.

"We’ve certainly been taught a few lessons here,” head coach Danny Wilson said after seeing his side outmuscled by the Bulls. “Physically we really struggled. We lacked breakdown presence, we couldn’t get go-forward and were then isolated, and when we did try to have a crack at them we couldn’t string enough together to do it. 

“They are a good team, there is no doubt about that. They are a powerful team and we lost physically tonight, quite comfortably.”

The Warriors’ next game is the Challenge Cup quarter-final against Lyon in France a week today, and Wilson fears that his squad will be significantly depleted as a result of the injuries sustained over the two games in South Africa. Rory Darge injured a knee, Thomas Gordon was concussed, and Fraser Brown hurt a shoulder last night, and it remains to be seen if any of them is cleared to play in France.   

Despite those losses, Glasgow fought all the way to the end, and came within an ace of securing a losing bonus point. Yet despite that rousing ending, the bigger picture showed a second half in which they were steadily worn down by the home side after going in at the break just seven points behind.

The Bulls, in the eighth and last play-off place in the URC before kick-off, rose to second thanks to picking up a try bonus in this first match of the weekend. They knew they would slip down a rung or three once other teams played, but even so they are well and truly in contention for a top-four finish and the home quarter-final that goes with it.

Glasgow got off to an excellent start and were awarded a penalty try after the home side collapsed a maul just short of their own goal line. Bulls No 8 Elrigh Louw was yellow-carded for the team offence, but the South Africans fought back well while a man down and levelled when scrum-half Zak Burger dotted down close to the posts to leave Morne Steyn an easy conversion. 

Duncan Weir nudged Glasgow back in front with a penalty midway through the half, but a second Steyn penalty then brought the Bulls level at 10-10. When the veteran stand-off sliced another, easier chance wide just before the break, that looked like being that for the first half. But then Zander Fagerson was yellow-carded for committing one too many offences, and the Bulls immediately made their advantage count, with winger Madosh Tambwe finishing off on the right and Steyn again converting.

Although handicapped by those injuries to key ball-winners Darge and Gordon, the Warriors defended well for almost the entire third quarter, but then lost two tries in quick succession. Lock Walt Steenkamp got the first, bursting through after a short pass from Burger. Then substitute Cyle Brink finished off after heavy pressure from the pack to claim the bonus point. Steyn converted the first, but his replacement Chris Smith hit the post from the second.

Glasgow got one score back five minutes from time when Ollie Smith sliced through on the first phase following a lineout, and Ross Thompson converted. They thought they had got the try they needed for a losing bonus point when Smith finished off, but a forward pass in the build-up from Sione Tuipulotu meant the score was chalked off.