GLASGOW came within a whisker of pulling off a sensational victory that would have given their European hopes a massive boost, but in the end they had to settle for three points that leaves those hopes hanging by a slender thread.

In the event they were lucky to come away with three points instead of one after Stuart Hogg’s last-minute long-range penalty bounced back off the crossbar.

Even if Warriors beat Sale Sharks with a bonus point next weekend, they will need other results to go their way if they are to qualify for the Champions Cup quarter-finals as one of the three best runners-up from the five pools.

Still, if they fail to make it, they can at least look back on this match as one into which they threw everything they had.

Scoring a single try against a defence as disciplined as the Chiefs is a tough ask at the best of times, so to score four was testament to Glasgow’s attacking verve.

The first came after barely a minute, through Tommy Seymour, while Huw Jones, George Horne and substitute Niko Matawalu were the other scorers, with Adam Hastings adding a penalty and four conversions.

But if that free scoring was the positive side of the Warriors’ display, indiscipline again cost them, both in terms of failing to be patient in possession and when it came to giving away too many penalties. Captain Callum Gibbins was yellow-carded in the first half for elbowing Jacques Vermeulen at a breakdown, and Fraser Brown was sin-binned in the second for a repeated team offence.

On both occasions, the Chiefs quickly capitalised with a try, even though they were themselves lucky to avoid a yellow when Alec Hepburn caught Hastings with a swinging arm.

The visitors only needed a point to win Pool Two, and they got it before an hour had been played. Even then, Glasgow might have snatched a win, but at critical moments – notably a Jones fumble with the line at his mercy – they fell short. They also rightly had a late “try” by Sam Johnson disallowed for a forward pass.

“We couldn’t get the ball to sit up tonight, could we?” Warriors coach Dave Rennie said. “We scored off one, but we had four other opportunities where if she sits up, we score.

“There’s a bit of frustration there, with the disallowed try so late in the game, and we let in a couple of soft ones. But Exeter are good, aren’t they? They get you around the goal line and ask a lot of questions of you.

“We’re disappointed because we did enough to get five points tonight. We’ll assess and see what happens in the other games and find out what we need to do next week. The chances are slim, but Gloucester are one of the other sides in there and they’ve got to play Toulouse away next week, and Northampton have to go to Lyon.

“We might need someone to do us a favour to go through, but we’ll assess and then we’ll throw everything at Sale. I’ll imagine they’ll put a pretty good team on the field based on what we saw last night [when Sale lost to La Rochelle].”

After that brightest of beginnings from Seymour, Chiefs captain Joe Simmonds opened his team’s account with a fifth-minute penalty, but Glasgow were soon back on the attack, and got their second try when Jones used Seymour as an outside decoy and glided through the resultant gap.

So far so good for the home side, but then impatience got the better of them as they tried to force an opening in search of try No.3. Sam Johnson’s pass evaded Jones, but was picked up on the bounce by Nic White, who raced in from 60 metres out to score behind the posts.

Hastings added a penalty before Gibbins was sin-binned, and within two minutes of that yellow card Exeter No.8 Matt Kvesic drove over. That try, converted by Simmonds, made it 17-17, then Vermeulen grabbed his team’s third try from close range. Glasgow scored their own third on the stroke of half time when Hastings cut inside before feeding Horne, whose turn of speed outstripped the remaining defence. The stand-off converted the scrum-half’s try to make it all square at the break.

Kvesic’s second score, just after the Brown sin-binning, restored his team’s advantage and left Glasgow in need of two scores to retake the lead. They got one in the right corner when a maul drove Niko Matawalu over, and Hastings’ conversion made it 31-31, and for a moment the conclusion to the game promised to be as gripping as its opening minutes.

Johnson thought he had scored in the same corner, but it was rightly chalked off for a forward pass by Hastings in the build-up. A drop-goal attempt from Hastings fell short, and then, in a dramatic last act, Hogg’s penalty from his own 10-metre line bounced back off the crossbar. Glasgow’s attempt to run it back was soon snuffed out, leaving the match tied.

Scorers, Glasgow – Tries: Seymour, Jones, Horne, Matawalu. Cons: Hastings 4. Pen: Hastings. 

Exeter – Tries: White, Kvesic 2, Vermeulen. Cons: Simmonds 4. Pen: Simmonds.

Glasgow: Bryce, Seymour, H Jones, Johnson, Steyn, Hastings, G Horne, Kebble, Brown, Z Fagerson, Cummings, Gray, Wilson, Gibbins, M. Fagerson. Replacements: Matawalu for Seymour (53), Seiuli for Kebble (55), Fusaro for Brown (72), Turner for Gibbins (57), Harley for M. Fagerson (41).

Exeter: Hogg, Nowell, Whitten, Devoto, Woodburn, J. Simmonds, White, Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie, Pieretto, Kirsten, Lonsdale, Ewers, Vermeulen, Kvesic. Replacements: S Hill for Devoto (65), J Maunder for White (53), Moon for Hepburn (63), Taione for Cowan-Dickie (79), Street for Pieretto (54), Witty for Kirsten (67).

Referee: Romain Poite (France). Att: 7,351.