Glasgow Warriors v Ulster

A battling Glasgow Warriors came up just short at Scotstoun this evening, as they were edged out 19-13 by Ulster in their first Guinness PRO14 clash in over a month.

Aki Seiuli’s late try earned the home side a losing bonus-point for their efforts, with the loose-head crossing for his first try in a Glasgow jersey.

Whilst having had a month without a game, there were no early signs of rustiness from the home side as they came haring out the blocks in the early exchanges. A smart kick ahead from Robbie Fergusson almost saw Ratu Tagive win the race to the loose ball with only 90 seconds played, forcing Michael Lowry to be on his toes for the visitors.

In defence, too, the Warriors signalled their intent early on. Enrique Pieretto’s thunderous hit on his opposite man drew a roar of approval from the bench, whilst Fergusson and Sam Johnson marshalled the midfield well.

The game settled into a closely-contested battle between the 22-metre lines as first quarter approached it’s conclusion, with attacking chances few and far between in tricky handling conditions. Rufus McLean’s pace almost saw him convert a quick break and chip ahead from Huw Jones, while at the other end only superb defence from Jamie Dobie and Tagive prevented an Ulster maul resulting in a try.

The menacing presences of Rob Harley and Richie Gray were proving a handful for the Ulster lineout, as the pair combined to steal a crucial throw within 10 metres of their own try-line.

In an increasingly frenetic first half, the Warriors suddenly sparked into life inside their own 22. Turnover ball from Thomas Gordon saw Dobie produce a moment of magic, as the scrum-half bamboozled the Ulster defence to race up to the Ulster 22 with great pace and footwork. Whilst the visitors scrambled well, an infringement a few phases later allowed Adam Hastings to kick the first points of the night and give his side a 3-0 lead.

Yet against the run of play, it would be the visitors who would go into the interval with the lead. A break from James Hume and Stuart McCloskey’s handling saw Lowry scamper over under the posts, John Cooney converting for the full seven points.

In contrast to the opening exchanges, it was a far more cagey affair to begin the second stanza. Once again it was the Warriors who struck for the first points of the half; a dominant shove from Pieretto and Oli Kebble earned the hosts a penalty 40 metres out, from which Hastings duly split the posts to narrow the gap to a solitary point.

Last season’s beaten finalists were beginning to exert more pressure on the Glasgow defence, enjoying a near-monopoly of possession as they went in search of a second try. Craig Gilroy thought he’d found it on 53 minutes, yet a TMO check revealed that a superb double tackle by Tagive and Huw Jones had forced a knock-on from the Ulster winger.

The Ulstermen weren’t to be denied for long, though, and crossed for their second score just two minutes later. A break from Ian Madigan saw Ulster get in behind the Glasgow defence, before some expertly-executed offloading saw Cooney fling the ball wide to Gilroy to score in the corner. The conversion sailed wide, but Ulster led 12-6.

A third try was to follow just after the hour mark, as Ulster eventually made successive penalties in Glasgow’s 22 count. A short-range lineout saw Nick Timoney driven over for the score, Cooney’s conversion taking the score to 19-6 in the visitors’ favour.

No one could fault the effort of the Glasgow defence, however, as the home side continued to give as good as they got. A powerful hit from TJ Ioane in midfield had the Warriors roaring, whilst James Scott made his presence known on his Glasgow Warriors debut.

As the game entered its final 10 minutes, the Warriors finally began to enjoy extended spells of possession. Ross Thompson – on for Hastings – and Johnson combined to almost free McLean on an outside arc, whilst Jones continued to look lively in broken field.

With six minutes to play, the scales tipped in Glasgow’s favour; with advantage already being played, a cynical knock-on from Alby Mathewson denied Tagive a scoring opportunity, and earned the former All Black a yellow card.

The Warriors didn’t take long to make their advantage tell. After successive penalties in Ulster’s 22, it was eventually left to Seiuli to pick up and power over from a couple of metres, showing good composure to finish under pressure. Thompson’s conversion was nerveless from the touchline, setting up a grandstand finish under the Friday night lights.

It wasn’t to be in the end, however, as Ulster held on for the victory despite the best efforts of the home side. It’ll be a trip to the Conference A leaders next for Danny Wilson’s men, as they travel to the RDS to face Leinster next Sunday night.

live commentary 7:35 PM Friday 19 Feb 2021

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Kick-off 7:35 PM

Glasgow Warriors

Ulster

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