GLASGOW 27 ULSTER 17
Ulster coughed up a 17-9 advantage and slipped out of the Guinness PRO12 top four following this defeat to defending champions Glasgow at Scotstoun last night.
Scottish international fullback, Stuart Hogg, also denied the visitors a losing bonus point when he kicked over a huge penalty two minutes in added time.
The win puts Glasgow - who have a game in hand - level on points with Ulster, who were leapfrogged by Munster after their 47-0 win over Zebre earlier.
Ulster came out of the blocks impressively and were on the front foot early.
Hogg, named RBS 6 Nations player of the championship on Thursday, found himself sent to the bin with less than two minutes of the game gone for blatant interference and Ulster made the advantage count four minutes later.
Iain Henderson, playing in his first game since a serious hamstring injury in early December, was the benefactor of a lovely inside pass from Stuart Olding to cross.
Paddy Jackson, making his 100th appearance for Ulster, added the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
Ulster created half chances after that with Craig Gilroy prominent, but errors began to set in and they were being penalised too often.
Finn Russell kicked two penalties on 24 and 28 minutes to keep the Scots in the hunt.
Jackson nailed a long range effort to stretch Ulster’s advantage, but Russell stuck with his third penalty to leave the Scots trailing by a point at the break.
Glasgow players were left stunned after being caught napping four minutes into the second half. Ruan Pienaar’s penalty to touch was retreived by Gilroy and he took the quick throw to Stuart McCloskey who cantered in for a simple try, Jackson shutting the booing crowd out to land the touchline conversion for a 17-9 lead.
Russell failed with a long range penalty effort on 56 minutes.
Hogg showed his brilliance two minutes later when he chipped and chased to go in for a try. The TMO was called in to check the grounding, but referee John Lacey was perhaps too dismissive of the calls for a forward pass to Hogg and had they reviewed that, the try would have chalked off.
As it was, the try stood but Russell could not close the gap further than three points - but within minutes his inoxious looking crossfield kick was taken by a flying Tommy Seymour, he carved through the cover and there were no arguments about the try.
That put Glasgow in front for the first time at 19-17 with Russell extending that by a further two points with a touchline conversion.
Ulster went through phase are phase, showing their best continuity of the night, but a turnover and two penalties later Glasgow’s Russel increased their lead to 24-17 with seven minutes remaining.
Russell had the chance to take Ulster out of losing bonus point range three minutes from the end, but he missed his third kick of the evening.
However, Hogg was to have the final say with a mammoth kick to send Ulster home with nothing.