Glasgow Warriors summoned incredible resilience to claim an excellent away victory 12-11 against Bayonne in the Champions Cup. 

The tension was palpable in the closing stages as Glasgow did their best to throw away their single-point lead with their line-out malfunctioning in the closing twenty minutes. Bayonne rumbled deep into Glasgow’s half in the final minute but the visitors were resolute to secure four points on the board after the disappointing opening day defeat to Northampton. 

Bayonne are formidable at the Stade Jean-Dauger but Glasgow - without several key players - silenced the raucous home support with Ally Miller and Josh McKay scoring brilliant individual tries. Fly-half Ross Thompson was superb on his first start in 18 months and Miller produced a colossal display to leave head coach Franco Smith delighted that Glasgow avenged their defeat to Northampton to significantly boost their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages of Europe’s premier club competition. 

“I’m very excited with the win,” Smith said. “The boys showed great effort to fight back all night and they were fantastic. Did we miss lots of opportunities? Yes. We were inaccurate set-piece wise but lots of our boys were playing for the first time in that environment. To come away with the win showing a lot of heart, and the way we went about sticking to the processes especially in defence and discipline at the end, was a big character-building exercise.”

Glasgow have been guilty of starting slowly recently but it was the opposite in the south of France. The Warriors' game plan was clear as they passed up kicking for three points twice in the opening five minutes as they prioritised tries. 

Glasgow thought they’d been rewarded after just three minutes when Ollie Smith went over in the corner but it was disallowed. The excellent Thompson sent a pinpoint kick towards Smith and he collected to score but his foot was marginally in touch. 

Glasgow spurned another opportunity from a penalty minutes later before the hosts began to excerpt serious pressure. Camille Lopez launched a counterattack with a clever kick and the ball ended up with Nadir Megdoud but the returning George Horne prevented a try with an excellent cover tackle on nine minutes. 

For the next five minutes, Bayonne bombarded the Glasgow line but they failed to get over with the visitors slightly fortunate to escape a yellow card after repeatedly being penalised at the breakdown. 

Rodrigo Bruni was brilliantly held up by the Glasgow defence and Bayonne's frustration at their inability to score began to boil over as they were penalised twice by referee Craig Evans for backchat. 

On the second occasion, Glasgow again turned down three points to kick for the corner but they neglected the opportunity to set up their renowned maul before Huw Jones knocked on. 

It was a frantic end-to-end encounter and after Megdoud embarked on a stunning solo run, Glasgow were eventually punished for their ill-discipline as Zander Fagerson was sinbinned and Lopez kicked the first points of the game on 29 minutes. 

Glasgow defended heroically to repel pressure but Bayonne capitalised on their man advantage as Facundo Bosch bundled over for the first try of the game.

Glasgow looked up against it but they responded brilliantly as Ally Miller scored a superb try. Thompson spotted space well and spun the ball to his number 8 via George Turner and the former sevens player showed searing pace to leave two Bayonne defenders chasing shadows as he eased over. 

Thompson kicked the conversion to reduce the deficit to a single point at half-time but they were dealt a major blow as Smith left the field with a concerning knee injury. 

Glasgow were missing several key forwards and their uncharacteristic inefficiency from the line-up was alarming as they missed another opportunity from just 10 metres out at the start of the second half. 

Lopez established a four-point lead for the hosts with his trusted boot but Glasgow’s second-half dominance was rewarded as McKay scored their second try to take a 12-11 lead on 56 mins. After constant pressure from the forwards, Sione Tuipulotu spun a long pass to the full-back and he produced the most outrageous, near frontflip, finish to tap down. The TMO checked the grounding but it ruled in Glasgow’s favour before Thompson missed the conversion. 

The tempo slowed down as the second half progressed and Glasgow were relieved when Reece Hodge spurned an immediate chance to retake the lead for Bennetton when his long-range penalty slipped past the post.

Glasgow were guilty of squandering great positions throughout and substitute hooker Angus Fraser was a prime offender as missed six consecutive line-out throws after his introduction for Turner. Glasgow now face the smaller matter of a double header against rivals Edinburgh in the URC before recommencing their European campaign away to Exeter in January.

Bayonne: Spring, Callandret, Tiberghien, Martocq, Megdoud, Lopez, Aprasidze; Cormenier, Bosch, Tagi, Marchois, Leindekar, Bourdeau, Heguy, Bruni.

Replacements: Giudicelli, Perchaud, Tatafu, Ceyte, Iturria, Machenaud, Dolhagaray, Hodge.

Tries: Bosch 34’ 

Penalties: Lopez 29’, 48’

Yellow card:

Glasgow Warriors: McKay, Rowe, Jones, Tuipulotu, Smith, Thompson, Horne; Bhatti, Turner, Z Fagerson, Peterson, Samuel, Brown, Gordon, Miller.

Replacements: Fraser, McBeth, Kebble, Gray, Williamson, Venter, Afshar, Jordan.

Tries: Miller 38’, McKay 56’


Yellow card: Fagerson 27'