PRIDE in defeat is so often the sole solace of a struggling side, but for Dave Rennie and his Glasgow Warriors troops, there was a genuine reason for optimism after yesterday’s 19-14 friendly loss to Northampton Saints at Bridgehaugh.

Circumstances forced the new head coach to field a team of inexperienced youngsters in his first match in charge, but, to a man, they stood up to be counted in an intensively physical battle. The only downside for Rennie was that, after taking an early lead and then going back in front with a wonder try early in the second half, his team could not sustain it and two quick scores in the final 10 minutes stopped them adding the confidence boost of a win to the one they got from their performance.

That said, there was considerable controversy over the winning try by Saints wing Tom Collins, with Glasgow being denied a clear penalty in the build-up, though Rennie was more worried about the defensive structure that left two men covering half the field.

“There were no points up for grabs,” he said philosophically. “It is always good to win but we can take a lot of positives. The fact is we got stung at the end with six guys defending on the short side – so we can be better.

“I was pretty proud of those boys. Northampton had some of their big guns out today and I thought our boys stood up pretty well. We asked them

to be brutal, we asked them to carry hard and our clean out was really good. There was a lot of aggression there. We have a lot to work on but the attitude was great.”

Not, Rennie was keen to point out, that it was anywhere near a complete performance. Glasgow did concede those two late scores and in the first half got a bit over excited about playing downwind and kicked when they didn’t have to. The New Zealander said: “We could have played to the side-lines because they had a back three that was lying deep. We kicked out a couple of times on the full. The discipline wasn’t great at times as we gave up a couple of soft penalties but I can’t fault the effort. I thought Adam Hastings [the fly-half] did a really good job. I will go through the footage but I was happy for the attitude.”

The real encouragement came from looking at the stand at Bridgehaugh, where there was an Test side’s worth of international players cheering their team-mates on. When Rennie adds these guys and their big-game experience to the mix, he must feel he has the resources to go places.

He added: “What the game highlighted for me was that we have a lot of depth. The young players are green and will learn a lot from today and from the other opportunities they will get. We know that a lot of the guys sitting in the stand today will be unavailable at certain times and these are the guys we will look towards so we will be better for that.

The highlight of the game was without any doubt the second Glasgow try. They kept the ball alive deep in their own 22 until Matt Fagerson, one of the stars of the afternoon, burst clear with support from Lee Jones. He was caught just short of the try line but there was plenty of support there to recycle the ball until Adam Ashe finished the length-of-the-field move.

Other players to make their mark included Rory Hughes, who was a real handful in an experimental role at full-back until forced off by a head knock. Scrum-half George Horne had got Glasgow under way, starting and finishing the opening try.

Ahasee Tuala levelled matters before Ashe put the Scots back in front. A try at the back of a maul by Alex Mitchell brought Northampton back into it before Collins settled the result.

Scorers, Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Horne, Ashe. Cons: Hastings (2).

Northampton Saints: Tries: Tuala, Mitchell, Collins. Cons: Mallinder (2)