Glasgow Warriors v Ulster
Glasgow Warriors booked their place in the 2018/19 Guinness PRO14 Final in emphatic fashion, racking up a half-century of points in a 50-20 victory over Ulster at Scotstoun.
An irrepressible attacking display saw the home side run in seven tries – including a brace for Tommy Seymour – as Dave Rennie’s men rubber-stamped their passage to a third final in five seasons.
With the cacophony of noise from the Warrior Nation ringing around Scotstoun, Glasgow came out of the changing rooms firing. Kyle Steyn’s burst from his own 22 took the Warriors inside Ulster territory, the crowd urging the team forward. After phase after phase, Adam Hastings lofted pass found Seymour and the winger did the rest, producing a magnificent finish in the corner for the game’s opening try. Hastings conversion from the touchline sailed between the uprights, and the Warriors led 7-0 with four minutes on the clock.
A second score nearly followed just moments later, as Hastings’ cross-field kick was gathered by DTH van der Merwe. The Canadian’s flipped ball inside found Steyn, with the Scotland 7s international just bundled into touch by the covering defence.
The Warriors defence was making an impression early on, and it was from defence that the second try of the night originated. A turnover from Rob Harley won the home side a penalty, which was dispatched into the Ulster 22 by Stuart Hogg. From the resulting maul, Ali Price’s eye for an opportunity saw him scamper down the blindside, dummying and accelerating his way through the gap for a classic scrum-half’s score. Hastings proved just as accurate from the other touchline with the conversion, extending his side’s lead to 14-0 at the end of the opening quarter.
There was to be no let-up from the Glasgow defence; a lineout steal five metres from their own try-line snuffed out an Ulster attack, before Hastings penalised an indiscretion at the scrum by adding another three points to the Warriors tally.
The visitors finally got themselves on the scoreboard on the half-hour mark, John Cooney making no mistake with a penalty from straight in front to narrow the gap to 17-3.
Yet with a minute remaining in the opening stanza, Glasgow tightened their grip on proceedings. After wave upon wave of pressure, it was left to Rob Harley to crash over underneath the posts to the delight of the Scotstoun faithful. The simplest of conversions proved no issue for Hastings, Glasgow going in at the break with a 24-3 advantage.
Knowing that the next score needed to be theirs if they were to forge a route back into the match, Ulster immediately went on the offensive at the start of the second half. Yet again, though, the Glasgow defence held firm as Steyn’s tackle on his own five-metre line prevented Jacob Stockdale from crossing the whitewash.
Instead, it was the home side that struck once more on 55 minutes. Working from turnover ball inside the Ulster 22, Hastings’s pass in behind found Sam Johnson, who in turn found Hogg with a delayed short ball. The full-back drew the final defender before feeding Seymour for his second score of the evening. The conversion drifted wide, yet the Warriors had a commanding lead.
Almost immediately, the Warriors cut loose in trademark fashion. A chip over the top from Hastings was gathered by Hogg, who then produced a sublime pass as he was going to ground to find Ryan Wilson. Fresh off the bench, the club co-captain fed Steyn, and just a short interchange with Wilson later the centre was crashing over the whitewash. The extra two points were duly added by Hastings, taking the score to 36-3 in favour of the hosts.
The travelling supporters were eventually given something to cheer on 61 minutes, as Ulster crossed for their first try of the match. A rolling maul was stopped just short, before Marcell Coetzee dived over in the corner. Billy Burns pushed the conversion attempt wide, leaving the score at 36-8 as Scotstoun rose to applaud the retiring Rory Best on his departure from the field.
As the Warriors emptied the bench, it was fitting that two replacements combined for try number six. With advantage in hand, George Horne clipped a perfectly-weighted kick over the defence. Elder brother Peter was on his sibling’s wavelength to gather the ball and touch down, as another conversion from Hastings extended the lead yet further.
The visitors soon cancelled out Glasgow’s latest effort with another try of their own, as Rob Herring was driven over by his fellow forwards for the score. Burns added the extras, the scoreline reading 43-15 as the game entered its final ten minutes.
With the game now flowing from end-to-end, it was now the turn of the Warriors to hit back. Peter Horne’s miss pass found Seymour galloping into the 22, before Hastings glided through a gap to feed George Horne for the simplest of run-ins. The conversion brought up the half-century, to the delight of the Warrior Nation.
There was to be one more try in the most frenetic of closing stages, as Michael Lowry gave the visitors the final word with a well-finished try. Yet this was Glasgow’s evening. The final whistle gave confirmation of the fact known to all inside Scotstoun – the Warriors are heading to Celtic Park.