GLASGOW’S hopes of reaching the last eight of the Champions Cup hang in the balance after a dispiriting defeat in dismal conditions last night. In the final minute of a scoreless second-half Scott Cummings thought he had scored the try which would have given Adam Hastings a conversion to win the game, but an offence by Matt Fagerson in the build-up saw the score chalked off and the No.8 shown the red card.

The losing bonus point takes the Warriors on to nine points, and they remain in second place in Pool Two at least until Sale take on leaders Exeter today. But even if they are still second at the end of the pool stage, they face an uphill climb to accumulate the total which would take them into the quarter-finals as one of the three best runners-up.

In truth, anything more than a losing bonus would have been undeserved against a La Rochelle side who played the conditions better and defended magnificently at times, even if illegally at others. The French club hit back from going 7-0 down to lead 12-7 through two tries at the break, and soaked up heaps of pressure in the second 40, inviting the Warriors to make mistakes. They duly obliged.

La Rochelle had made 11 changes to the line-up that began their 27-24 defeat by Glasgow last week - their third loss from three games in the pool - but those alterations did not appear to have had an adverse effect on their rhythm as they got off to a promising start in the most unpromising of conditions. The home side kept them at bay, however, then steadily got on top.

Gaining ground was problematic for Glasgow despite the fact the wind was behind them, and although they were awarded a flurry of penalties, for a time they were unable to get a decent line-out drive going. Eventually, however, they got the formula right: from a penalty sent to touch on the left, Fraser Brown threw in and collected, and then combined with his fellow-forwards to drive over for the opening score of the game. Hastings converted comfortably to make it 7-0 as the midway point of the half approached.

If the home support thought the try heralded the start of a period of domination for their team, they were soon disabused of the notion as the Top 14 side took control of the rest of the half. A 20th-minute penalty by Brock James from the Warriors' 10-metre line was risibly short as the wind caught hold of it and blew it back out of the 22, but it was La Rochelle who had the last laugh as they regained possession and went on to register their first try.

They were initially held up by Glasgow, but then, with the referee playing advantage, centre Brieuc Plessis chipped out to Jules Favre on the right wing. On a slippery surface Favre was always going to have the beating of the turning Kyle Steyn, and he was able to gather then dive over.

James’ conversion attempt was short, but the try had an invigorating effect on his team, and they soon resumed the offensive. They were having more joy with their maul, and would have gone further ahead had Levani Botia kept hold of a pass on a crash run rather than knocking it on. The centre did not take long to make amends for his error, however, as he first put in an excellent off-load on the left to keep a drive alive, and then finished off through the middle after scrum-half Alexi Bales had recycled.

James converted this time to put his club 12-7 up with minutes to go in the first half, and Glasgow had no chance to get back on terms before the break. The first 10 minutes of the second half saw the Warriors toil to make anything meaningful of possession, and they were forced into a change with half-an-hour to play when Stafford McDowall went off with a shoulder injury and was replaced by Nick Grigg. George Horne soon followed Grigg off the bench, taking over from Ali Price at scrum-half, and the two new backs helped inject some energy into their team.

The fact the rain had eased for a while also helped the Warriors with their natural running game, and La Rochelle resorted to conceding a flurry of penalties to keep them out. Right on the hour mark Grigg appeared to have got over the line, but there was no clear view of the incident so the score was denied.

More penalties followed, and eventually, with quarter-of-an-hour to play, Bales was yellow-carded for kicking the ball out of an advancing Warriors scrum. But the 14 men continued to defend defiantly, and a long period of possession ended when Niko Matawalu failed to collect a long, looping pass from Horne.

With 50 seconds to go, Cummings touched down in the right corner at the end of a lengthy spell of pressure, and Hastings lined up a conversion attempt to put his team ahead. But the referee reviewed the score, saw Fagerson’s offence in the build-up - a left hand to the throat of Dany Pliso as he carried the ball in his right - then showed the No.8 the red card and ruled out Cummings’ score. It was the last meaningful act of a match which may prove to be Glasgow’s last relevant outing of this European campaign.

Scores: Glasgow: Try Brown. Con: Hastings.

La Rochelle: Tries: Favre, Botia. Con: James.

Glasgow Warriors: T Seymour; K Steyn, H Jones, S McDowall, N Matawalu; A Hastings, A Price; A Seiuli, F Brown, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, J Gray, R Wilson, C Gibbins (captain), M Fagerson. Subs: G Turner, A Allan, A Nicol, R Harley, T Gordon, G Horne, N Grigg, R Jackson.

La Rochelle: K Murimurivalu; J Favre, B Plessis-Couillaud, L Botia, M Andreu; B James, A Bales; R Wardi, F Bosch, S Puafisi, T Lavault, M Tanguy, K Gourdon (captain), P Boudehent, G Alldritt. Subs: B Lebrun, D Priso, V Pelo, R Leroux, Z Kieft, T Berjon, I West, P Aguillon.

Referee: W Barnes (England).

Attendance: 6,801.