Ulster 50-19 Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors fell to a disappointing 50-19 defeat in their opening pre-season encounter this afternoon, as Ulster ran 33 unanswered second-half points to secure victory.

Tries from Nick Grigg, Ratu Tagive and Matt Smith had given the Warriors the half-time lead, before the home side stamped their authority on the match after the restart.

It was Brandon Thomson who got proceedings underway on a bright September early afternoon, as Dave Rennie’s men took to the field for the first time since May’s Guinness PRO14 Final.

Both teams set out their respective stalls early, as they looked to attack from anywhere. The lively Craig Gilroy almost profited from an interception early on, whilst Grigg showed his trademark hard running by slicing through the Ulster defence after 10 minutes.

It was Grigg who would be the man to open the scoring on 15 minutes, just reward for his early form. A lineout on the Ulster 22 gave the Warriors field position, from where Robbie Nairn made the initial incision into the hosts’ territory before Glenn Bryce took his side to within inches of the try-line. Glasgow weren’t to be denied for long, however, as Grigg was on hand to take the scoring pass from Sean Kennedy and crash over in the corner. Thomson’s conversion was off target, but the visitors led 5-0.

The home side hit back almost immediately. A penalty was dispatched into the Glasgow 22, before the men in white set about building the phases. Despite some sterling defensive efforts from the likes of Thomson and Robbie Fergusson, the pressure eventually told as Billy Burns sent Gilroy over in the corner. The Ulster captain added the extras, giving his side a 7-5 lead as the first quarter drew to a close.

That lead was nearly thrown back to the visitors, quite literally. Burns’s clearing pass found the arms of Tagive, who was just unable to take advantage.

The rangy winger wasn’t to be kept off the scoresheet though – a simple two-on-one saw Bryce feed the Australian for a run-in, with Thomson’s conversion giving the visitors a 12-7 lead after 27 minutes.

Rennie’s men were beginning to dominate the attacking play, and were rewarded with their third try on the half-hour mark. After the home side initially repelled a five-metre maul illegally, the Warriors forwards came to the fore. It was eventually left to Smith to fight his way over for a try in his first appearance since January, Thomson’s conversion making it 19-7 to the visitors.

Once more, Ulster responded in ideal fashion. A five-metre lineout was stopped short by the Glasgow pack, yet Greg Jones found a gap in the fringe defence to dot the ball down. The conversion drifted wide from Burns, leaving the score at 19-12 in Glasgow’s favour.

There was to be a final score before the break, as Gilroy crossed for his second score of the game on the stroke of half-time despite the best efforts of Jamie Dobie in the build-up. Burns’ conversion was off target, giving the Warriors a 19-17 lead at the interval.

Rennie shuffled his hand at the break, handing first appearances to the likes of Alec Coombes, Pat O’Toole and Marshall Sykes as a vastly different team ran out for the second period.

There was no change to the attacking intent on show, however – Coombes made early inroads with some strong running in midfield, before Luke Marshall orchestrated a move to stretch the Warriors defence.

It was the home side that struck first in the second half, Marshall working a two-on-one with Angus Kernohan to send the winger over out wide. Michael Lowry added a tricky conversion, handing Ulster a 24-19 lead.

Indeed, Ulster were enjoying the bulk of possession, with Chris Fusaro sent to the sin-bin by the referee after a series of Glasgow infringements. Defending a man short, the Warriors were punished by the home side’s fifth try, as Tom O’Toole flipped an impressive offload into the arms of Ethan McIlroy for a score converted by Lowry.

Australian lock Sam Carter was next to cross, strolling over for a try on his first appearance for the Ulstermen. Lowry’s conversion sailed wide on this occasion, but the home side led 36-19 with 15 minutes to play.

The match was firmly in Ulster’s grasp now, as Nick Timoney crashed over with five minutes remaining to add more gloss to the scoreline. John Cooney, denied a try of his own by Max McFarland moments earlier, added the conversion to take the score to 43-19.

Angus Curtis was the next to cross for the hosts, slaloming his way to the try-line from halfway for a memorable solo score. Cooney converted to bring up the half-century to the delight of the Ulster supporters, leaving the final score reading 50-19 to the home side.

The Warriors won’t have too long to wait until they have a chance to exact revenge on the Ulstermen – the two sides meet again at Scotstoun for The Famous Grouse Pre-Season Challenge a week today.

live commentary 1:30 PM Saturday 7 Sep 2019

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