Glasgow Warriors v Ulster
In front of a record crowd at Scotstoun, the Warriors produced a breathtaking performance to beat Ulster and move into third spot in the RaboDirect PRO12 with their fifth consecutive victory.
Tries from Sean Maitland, Tommy Seymour and Mark Bennett enabled Glasgow to win the game convincingly, with Finn Russell playing a starring role, accurate from the kicking tee all evening.
The match was a tight affair in the first-half, with Glasgow leading 10-9 at the break.
In the second-half, the Warriors were in scintillating form, running in three tries.
After returning from nine months out of the game against Treviso a few weeks ago, Peter Horne started his first game of the season.
Gordon Reid also began his six consecutive game at tight-head prop.
After impressing in recent weeks, 21 year-old Finn Russell started at stand-off and gave Glasgow an early lead. He showed great signs of maturity and played a starring role in the victory.
In the opening exchanges, Ulster slammed a kick wide of the posts but after nine minutes, Russell made them pay, slotting a penalty from close range.
With 20 minutes on the clock, Ulster poured forward but stout defending from Sean Maitland was crucial in denying them. A minute later the visitors levelled the scores through a Paddy Jackson penalty.
It wasn’t long before Ulster were in front when Glasgow’s indiscipline allowed Mark Anscombe’s men to take a 6-3 lead with Jackson notching from close range.
After going in front, Ulster were in the ascendency and matters were made worse when Ryan Wilson was sin-binned for refusing to roll away.
Jackson then did the honours. On the half-hour mark, he had a chance to extend Ulster’s lead further but saw the ball crash against the upright.
As the half drew to a close, Glasgow mounted a large period of pressure and on the stroke of half-time they received their just rewards.
A clever Finn Russell offload unleashed Sean Maitland who ran onto the ball at pace before racing under the posts.
Russell then converted to give Glasgow a 10-9 lead at half-time.
After the break, the Warriors were buoyant and quickly extended their lead through Finn Russell following Sean Doyle’s yellow card in the first minute.
Russell was impressive in the black and blue for Glasgow and he was on kicking duty again after 48 minutes when his side scored a second try.
After persistent work from Townsend’s men, Tommy Seymour finished off the move, diving through a ruck of bodies to secure a crucial score.
From wide on the right wing, Russell stepped up and hammered the ball, watching it sail through the posts much to the delight of the Warrior Nation who celebrated the 20-9 scoreline.
As proved by their lofty league position, Ulster are a determined outfit and they pushed for a try but the Warriors were resolute with Mark Bennett making a key tackle to stop Ulster from scoring.
Eventually the men from Ireland did cross the line but the TMO denied them.
The man upstairs was then called into action as Man of the Match, Mark Bennett raced over the whitewash after 66 minutes. After picking the ball up metres out, the man from Ayrshire marauded his way through the defence before reaching out his arm and touching the ball down. The referee wasn’t convinced, but the TMO was and the try was awarded.
Finn Russell then banged over the conversion in what proved to be the last action on the scoreboard.
It was another crucial victory for Glasgow ahead of their game in hand against Edinburgh next weekend. Glasgow lead 20-16 following the 1872 Cup first leg at Murrayfield on Boxing Day. Tickets are available now for next Saturday's encounter from www.glasgowwarriors.org.
Glasgow: Murchie, S. Maitland, Bennett, Horne, Seymour, Russell, Cusiter, Reid, Hall, Welsh, Swinson, Gray, Strauss, Fusaro, Wilson.
Replacements: Jackson for S. Maitland (77), Vernon for Horne (76), Matawalu for Seymour (74), Grant for Reid (50), MacArthur for Hall (59), Cross for Welsh (60), Nakarawa for Gray (60), Harley for Fusaro (65). Sin Bin: Wilson (29).
Ulster: R. Andrew, Bowe, Cave, L. Marshall, Trimble, P. Jackson, P. Marshall, Court, Herring, R. Lutton, Muller, Henderson, Henry, Doyle, Williams.
Replacements: Gilroy for Bowe (75), Heaney for P. Marshall (75), Annett for Court (68), Warwick for R. Lutton (65), McComish for Muller (69), Stevenson for Henderson (71). Not Used: Fitzpatrick, McKinney. Sin Bin: Doyle (43).
Ref: John Lacey (Ireland