The Ospreys had to settle for a losing bonus point after a tense and tight 80 minutes at Scotstoun, a brave and determined performance not enough to secure a win at the home of the PRO12 leaders
Glasgow had dominated the first half before a resilient Ospreys side came from behind to take a three point lead going into the final quarter after a wonderfully created try from Tom Grabham, only to see the home team grab victory with a penalty five minutes from the end.
It was a fast and furious start from Glasgow, going through 12 phases of pick and drives that put the Ospreys under early pressure but good breakdown work from skipper Tyler Ardron saw the visitors awarded a penalty under their own posts, allowing Sam Davies to clear.
That proved to be the theme of the opening stages, and the hosts worked through multiple phases again to move deep inside the Ospreys 22, only for Peter Horne’s pass for Niko Matawalu to drift forward as the Fijian wing hit the line, looking to find a hole in the defence.
There were early injury setbacks inside the first 10 minutes, with both Ryan Bevington and Dafydd Howells exiting the action. Bevington, on his return after a year long injury absence, taking a blow to the head and failing a pitchside concussion test, while Howells limped off just 10 minutes into his first ever PRO12 start.
As the Ospreys looked to regather and refocus, they found themselves under immense pressure of their own making after Davies got caught out delaying a clearing free-kick from their own 22, the experienced Ali Kellock winning a scrum in a dangerous position. The set piece disintegrated and it was Glasgow hooker Pat MacArthur who had a simple finish to put his team ahead, Horne adding the extras to put the hosts 7-0 ahead after 15 minutes in.
The contest had been played almost exclusively inside Ospreys territory, but a rare excursion upfield saw Glasgow penalised for crossing. Unfortunately, Davies was unable to find the target from the left and the scoreboard remained unchanged.
He was handed another go just a couple of minutes later from the other side after a Glasgow offence on the floor, but this time he pushed across the face of goal and wide.
Having struggled to get any kind of foothold in the game during the first quarter, slowly the Ospreys were working their way back into it, and, with 27 minutes gone Davies made it third time lucky as he sent one straight down the middle to finally get his team on the scoreboard.
Josh Matavesi was then forced to undergo a head injury assessment after being bounced by compatriot Matawalu, returning to the action five minutes later, but the hosts ill discipline was providing a lifeline for the Ospreys, and after great work on the ground from Justin Tipuric saw him win a penalty in kickable range, Davies brought his team back to within a point six minutes from the break.
There was still time for Glasgow to hit back, Horne with the penalty after the Ospreys had crept up offside, to make it 10-6 as the teams headed back down the tunnel.
HALF-TIME: GLASGOW 10 OSPREYS 6
After a scrappy opening to the second half a penalty against Scott Baldwin at the ruck, when the hooker felt the ball was out and he had every right to compete, gave Horne an early sighter but his penalty from the left was always drifting wide.
The fly-half made no mistake on 50 minutes when an offside was penalised, the kick a more straightforward from 15m further infield.
The response from the Ospreys was instant with a well-worked score straight off the training field. Tyler Ardron secured good lineout ball and Martin Roberts delayed his pass just enough for Grabham, coming infield off his wing, to collect and scythe through the Glasgow defence to go under the posts unchallenged. Davies converted and the scores were level at 13 apiece with 27 minutes to play.
It got better five minutes later when Davies slotted over a penalty from the left touchline after Glasgow were pinged at a scrum five metres out, putting the region ahead for the first time on the night.
It was on a knifeedge, and if the Ospreys thought that the pendulum was swinging their way, a penalty against Justin Tipuric for not rolling away gave Horne a simple kick to level things again, at 16-16, in the 68th minute.
Only desperate scramble defence kept Glasgow at bay after a great run from DTH Van Der Merwe, cutting across the field to take his team close to the line, and thankfully for the Ospreys, Matawalu knocked on at the base of the ensuing ruck.
The resulting scrum saw the Ospreys under pressure though, Dan Baker knocking on as he looked to pick up to carry from the base, but the defence was able to repel wave after wave of Glasgow pressure. However, the next scrum saw the Ospreys collapsing and Horne made no mistake from in front of the posts, edging Glasgow back ahead with five minutes on the clock.
Instantly the Ospreys were handing the chance to pull themselves level again, Glasgow going off their feet, but Davies’ long range kick from close to halfway just pulled to the right.
That was that for the night, and the Ospreys now have to refocus on the challenges that lie ahead, and with Leinster and Munster visiting the Liberty Stadium on the next two weekends there is everything still to play for in the race for the play-offs.