Glasgow Warriors made an impressive start to their United Rugby Championship campaign with an emphatic 43-25 win over Leinster as George Horne capped his 100th appearance in style.

Glasgow scored seven tries - a club record against Leinster - to highlight their billing as one of the favourites in the competition with the highlight Horne’s try less than a minute after his introduction. It was a special moment for the 28-year-old as he raced clear to score and he celebrated poignantly. 

Leinster were without their Ireland contingent from the World Cup and it showed. The Irish giants improved in the second half but Glasgow combined attacking flair with defensive grit to fully deserve their win and head coach Franco Smith lauded centurian Horne. 

“I’m ecstatic for him," Smith said. "To play his 100th game and win it, not everybody gets that on accolade day. Good people make good players, and he’s an absolute pleasure to work with. I said to him that the plan was for him to come on and bring that energy he always brings, so that was the strategy in the second half of the game, and he delivered as he always does.

“A year are ago we started off differently so we’re just going to take the positives out of this game. I think we needed to show that we are resilient in defence and we did that. The hit-out against Ulster helped us. There is one side of the game which sometimes in Glasgow is neglected because we are a high-paced and attacking team so really excited about that.

“It’s in our DNA to score tries. I was asked during the week about what needs to get better and one of them is definitely our defence. We defended much better last season but didn’t always get the reward on the board for that. Even tonight, although I thought we were exceptional in the number of tackles we made, we still left a few tries which I think we could have prevented”

Glasgow made a bright start on their competitive return with Stafford McDowell prominent. The hosts twice opted to kick to the corner, rather than at the posts, from penalties in the opening ten minutes but their bold approach failed to pay dividends as Leinster’s robust defence held strong. 

Glasgow dominated the opening stages and they were finally rewarded on 16 minutes when Josh McKay scored the opening try after impressive work from Rory Darge. The Scotland flanker burst through the Leinster defence and offloaded for McKay to ease in under the posts with Tom Jordan adding the simple conversion. 

Leinster’s advances into the Glasgow 22 were sparse during the opening twenty minutes but Harry Byrne reduced the deficit to a point with two penalties. 

The Warriors, however, carried a far superior threat with ball in hand and Sebastian Cancelliere added a brilliant second try. The Argentinian winger made the initial break before popping the ball off to Gregor Brown who carried for 15 metres before being tackled, but Cancelliere provided the support run to collect the offload and he dived over in the corner. 

It was a brilliant finish but referee Craig Evans had to review the incident on the big screen but after considerable deliberation, he awarded the try.

Although Leinster were missing several key players, they are a formidable side and they demonstrated their resilience by scoring their first try on 30 minutes. Glasgow defended their try line well initially under heavy pressure but their resistance finally ended when Jack Boyle managed to ground the ball. 

Leinster’s try arrived through sheer force and perseverance but Glasgow responded quickly through a moment of improvisation. Jamie Dobie was caught releasing his pass and it fell short of McDowall but he reacted brilliantly to produce a spinning kick that bounced perfectly into the hands of his fellow centre Huw Jones to score. 

Glasgow capped an excellent first half with a bonus point when hook Angus Fraser powered over from a maul for a try on debut. 

Warriors head coach Franco Smith intimated that he wanted his side to become as renowned for their defensive ability as their attacking flair and the early signs were positive as they produced a monumental effort to resist sustained pressure to preserve their 11-point lead at the break. 

Leinster were a shadow of the side that reached the Champions Cup final last season in the first half but they improved considerably after half-time and Lee Barron added their second try. Only four points separated the sides when Cancelliere was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on and it looked ominous for Glasgow but George Horne stepped up in style. 

Horne entered the field for his 100th Warriors appearance on 51 minutes and he scored with just his second touch as Scotstoun erupted.

Leinster failed to score a single point with their man advantage after ref Evans adjudged that Liam Turner had been tackled into touch after a length review. The visitors looked to have set up a nervy final eight minutes when Tommy O’Brien finished excellently to make it a four-point game but Johnny Matthews replicated his try-scoring feat at the World Cup before Evans awarded a late try to seal a superb win for Glasgow. 

Glasgow: Kebble (McBeth 51’), Fraser (Matthews 51’), Fagerson (Sordoni 59’), Peterson, Cummings (Samuel 75’), Brown (Gordon 63’), Darge, Venter (Miller 51’), Dobie, Jordan (Weir 75’), Steyn (Horne 51’), McDowall, Jones, Cancelliere, McKay

Tries: McKay 12’, Cancelliere 20’, Jones 32’, Fraser 37’, Horne 52’, Matthews 77, Penalty Try 78’ 

Yellow card: Cancelliere 48’

Leinster: Frawley, O’Brien, Turner (Prendergast 66’), Ngatai, Larmour, Byrne, McGrath (Foley 50’), Boyle (McCarthy 50’), McKee (Barron 25’), Clarkson (McGuire 50’), Molony, Jenkins (Deeny 50’), Deegan, Penny (Connors 73’), Culhane (Ruddock 50’)

Tries: Boyle 28’, Barron 44’, O’Brien 68’

Penalties: Byrne x2

Yellow card: Larmour 73’, Deeny 78