Ulster v Glasgow Warriors
Ulster mastered the conditions in Belfast better than the visiting Warriors as the Ravenhill side qualified for the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup. While Gregor Townsend's side came back into the game in the second half, it was a bridge too far against one of Europe's finest sides.
In a game characterised by towering box kicks and the battle for territory the Ulstermen won out, though the match was perhaps closer than the final scoreline suggested with two scores in the final seven minutes putting the victory beyond any reasonable doubt.
Ruan Pienaar opened the scoring for the home side after five minutes with Glasgow penalised for going off their feet at a ruck, and with a quarter of the game gone, Ulster stretched their lead to one that would prove unassailable.
Kiwi Nick Williams, renowned for his size and power, crossed the whitewash with twenty minutes gone._ He forced Sean Maitland to spill the ball with a big hit then as Ulster swept forward it was Williams' pick and go from the base of a ruck a few phases later which saw him batter through three tackles to touch down.
Despite the dreadful conditions, both sides were willing to throw the ball around and the desire to take territory saw the back three of each side under pressure under the high ball._
Duncan Weir had Warriors first shot at goal lined up with just over half an hour on the clock but his effort, from fully 49 metres out, shot low from the tee and crept under rather than over the bar.
Five minutes later, and in an uncharacteristic moment, Weir missed his second penalty attempt, dragging the ball left.
There had been some encouraging performances from the visitors with Henry Pyrgos sharp and alert as ever and with some accurate kicking as he matched his illustrious opposite number._ While the scrum came under pressure, captain Al Kellock was as influential as ever in the pack
The Warriors, however, were left to rue two missed opportunities that would have put them in touch on the stroke of half-time.
The second half looked to mirror the first with Pienaar, Ulster's influential scrum-half, continuing the trend of towering high balls but Glasgow had clearly re-thought the game plan and Kellock urged his pack to keep it tight and take the fight up front.
The rolling maul was being used to good effect and led to Weir putting the first points on the board for the visiting side.
Another maul led to another penalty and another three points from the boot of Weir and within 10 minutes of the restart Warriors were back in touch at 10-6. _
Glasgow had the momentum as Ulster were reduced to 14 men with a sin-binning for second-row Henderson but the Warriors couldn't capitalise on the man advantage and when Ulster returned to full strength, they knocked the wind from the Warriors sails.
A massive scrum inside the Glasgow 22 forced the penalty and the boot of Pienaar extended their lead back out to seven points with a little under 20 minutes to play.
The dagger blow came 10 minutes later with Jared Payne freed in the corner to show and go past the defence and touch down to make the game secure for Ulster, even with Pienaar missing the conversion.
While the Warriors continued to step up, they perhaps stepped too quick in a tap and go and were turned over, a two on one meant outside centre Cave could race in from 20 metres.
A disappointing night for Glasgow in one of Europe's most feared arenas but Warriors will be keen to redress the scoreline when Ulster visit Scotstoun in just over a month's time.
MOTM:_ Tom Court
J Payne; A Trimble, D Cave, P Wallace, C Gilroy; P Jackson, R Pienaar; T Court, R Best, J Afoa; L Stevenson, I Henderson; R Diack, C Henry, N Williams
Substitutes: R Herring, C Black, D Fitzpatrick, N McComb, R Wilson, P Marshall, M Allen, C Cochrane.
P Murchie (sub Hogg, 67); S Maitland, A Dunbar, P Horne, DTH van der Merwe; D Weir, H Pyrgos (sub Matawalu 70); R Grant (sub Reid, 67), D Hall (sub MacArthur, 51), M Low, T Ryder (sub Campbell, 70), A Kellock, J Eddie, R Harley (Sub Swinson 47), J Strauss.
Substitutes: P MacArthur, G Reid, N Campbell, T Swinson, N Matawalu, S Wight, S Hogg