Glasgow Warriors V Ulster
Glasgow Warriors were narrowly edged out by Ulster under the Friday night floodlights, as the latest close-fought encounter between the two sides saw the visitors claim a 22-17 victory.
Despite a man-of-the-match performance from the returning Finn Russell, Paddy Jackson’s try with 15 minutes remaining was enough to secure the win for the Irish side, with Glasgow having to settle for a losing bonus point in front of a sold-out Scotstoun.
The visitors enjoyed the best of the early play, and were rewarded with the first points of the game after five minutes. After squandering an earlier chance to open his account, Jackson was successful with a penalty from 45 metres to give his side the lead.
Ulster thought they had scored the night’s first try just moments later, as Jared Payne crossed from an inside ball. However, after consulting with the TMO, referee Ian Davies disallowed the try, with Ulster second row Iain Henderson shown a yellow card for a dangerous clear-out at a ruck prior to the scoring pass.
It was the side from Belfast that were to register the opening try after 15 minutes however. A break from Charles Piutau took the Ulstermen to the Glasgow 22, before the ball was spun wide to allow Darren Cave to cross in the corner. Jackson was unable to add the conversion from out wide, leaving the score at 8-0 to the visitors.
The Warriors responded immediately. Having elected to kick to the corner from a penalty, Glasgow recycled the ball through the phases, with Gordon Reid the man to apply the finishing touch with an opportunistic pick and go try from close to the line. Finn Russell converted, and the gap was reduced to just a point.
Despite the weather making handling tricky at points, both sides were looking to throw the ball around, as they looked to make the most of Scotstoun’s synthetic surface.
The home side were forced into a change after half an hour, with Tjiuee Uanivi’s departure meaning a competitive debut for BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy player Sam Thomson.
Just minutes later, Ulster were denied by the TMO for the second time in the half, with Rob Herring’s effort ruled out for obstruction in the build-up.
There was to be another try before the break, however. Leonardo Sarto was adjudged to have tackled Piutau without the use of his arms, with the referee showing the Italian winger the yellow card and awarding Ulster a penalty try. Jackson’s simple conversion left the score to 15-7 going into half-time.
With the rain now falling consistently, both sides were struggling to keep hold of the ball. Russell was first to trouble the scoreboard in the second half, as the fly-half slotted a penalty from 40 metres after Ulster were deemed to be offside.
The Irish side were once again enjoying the better of the possession, but, despite spending repeated phases in the Glasgow 22, found themselves unable to break the Warriors’ defensive line.
The home side were growing into the half, and were rewarded with their second try. A scorching break by replacement Rory Hughes set up field position, before Stuart Hogg offloaded out of the tackle to allow Tommy Seymour to score his seventh try of the season. Russell’s excellent conversion from the touchline gave Glasgow the lead for the first time in the game, as he took the score to 17-15.
This time, though, it was the visitors who found the immediate response. Turnover ball in midfield allowed Louis Ludik to break, with the ball kept alive well in the wet conditions before Jackson slid over the line. With the conversion of his own try, Jackson made it 22-17 in Ulster’s favour.
With just ten minutes remaining, Matt Fagerson was introduced, with the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy prospect replacing Ryan Wilson for his competitive debut.
The Warriors once again went on the attack, looking for the try that would level the scores, continually pressurising the Ulster defence.
However, the elusive try was not to be, as the visitors’ defensive line held firm to ensure they return to Belfast with their unbeaten run this season still intact. Gregor Townsend’s men have to settle for a losing bonus point, as attentions now turn to the trip to Newport in a week’s time.