GLASGOW WARRIORS 17 ULSTER 22
Ulster moved two points clear for at least 24 hours at the top of the Guinness PRO last night with a deserved win over the Warriors.
It was the Irish Province’s first victory at Scotstoun in six previous encounters and it also maintained their unbeaten win to the start of the current campaign - four from four.
There was a real intent about Ulster’s play, coming out of the straps quickly and forcing the Scots in a series of errors.
A kickable penlaty oppotunity after three minutes was however missed by Ulster outhalf, Paddy Jackson, but the Irish international made amends three minutes later when he landed a long range effort to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
Ulster continued to impress and some flowing rugby put them in another good position. It looked as though Jared Payne had gone over close to the posts on nine minutes.
However, at the ruck earlier Iain Henderson, making his first start of the season in the white jersey, lifted and dumped former Ulster player Tommy Seymour on his back. That saw the chance for seven points gone and Ulster down to 14 men for 10 minutes with henderson sin-binned.
Glasgow had a little sortie into the Ulster ‘22’, but it was the Irish Province who continued to dominate.
A little bit of jinxing magic from Charles Piutau got the visitors moving again and after several pairs of hand had moved the ball on, Darren Cave crossed for a try in the corner. Jackson was unsuccessful with the conversion.
But almost straight after the restart Ulster conceded a penalty, from the lineout and following phases Gordon Reid forced his way over and as Henderson returned to the fray, birthday boy Finn Russell converted to make it 7-8 with 19 minutes played.
After the frenetic start, things settled and as weather conditions deteriorated it was beginning to develop into a slog, with Ulster still keen to move ball and they looked the more enterprising side.
Ulster’s dominace looked to have paid off again when from a lineout and driving maul, Rodney Ah You hauled and Henderson pushed captain Rob Herring over the line. Amazingly referee Ian Davies disalloed the try.
But two minutes before the break Ulster finally got some reward - a penalty try after Santo made a no arms tackle on Piutau inches from the line. Jackson added the extras to send Ulster in 15-7 deservedly to the good at the break.
The conmtinued where they left off in the second and it looked as though Jackson would go in for a try of the season contender. But he was pushed as he went over the line and the ball popped out of his hand.
That did not matter as the eagle eyed Davies spotted a previous infringment, penalising Roger Wilson for an offisde and it was Russell who landed the resulting penalty to reduce Ulster’s lead to five points after
Having lost Stuart McCloskey to injury in the first half, Ulster were then forced to take replacement Stuart Olding off 53 minutes in, with Robert Lyttle coming in and taking a wing berth and Piutau moving to the centre.
Rory Best had also entered the campaign for the first time this season replacing Rob Herring.
Little errors from Ulster began to take their toll and Glasgow threatened and the overlap arrived with Seymour going over in what was only their second chance of the game. Russell then converted to put the Scots ahead with 22 minutes remaining.
Ulster picked it up straight away, a lovely movement eventually led to Jackson racing away and the new team skipper did well to slide in and turn for the try - Davies remarkably not going to the TMO as he had all evening to check the grounding. Jackson converted and they were 22-17 ahead.
It was the turn of Glasgow to up the pressure and Ulster defended magnificently, even if Piutau’s attempted clerance was not the most impressive and had put his side right back under the cosh again.
The All Black then showed his silky skills - as he had done bar that minor mistake earlier - attempting to dribble the ball to the try line which kept Glasgow in their own half if nothing else.
Ulster stuck the ball up the jumper for the last five minutes - worked the clock down and deservedly took the win.
Glasgow Warriors: S Hogg, L Sarto, M Bennett, A Dunbar, T Seymour, F Russell, H Pyrgos (co-captain); G Reid, F Brown, Z Fagerson, G Peterson, J Gray (co-captain), T Uanivi, L Wynne, R Wilson.
Replacements: P MacArthur, A Allan (Reid 29), S Puafisi, S Thomson (Uanivi 31), M Fagerson, A Price, N Grigg, R Hughes.
Ulster: J Payne, L Ludik, D Cave, S McCloskey, C Piutau; P Jackson, R Pienaar; A Warwick, R Herring (captain), R Ah You, A O’Connor, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, S Reidy, R Wilson.
Replacements: R Best (Herring 48), C Black (Warwick 61), R Kane (Ah You 54) P Browne (O’Connor 54), C Ross, P Marshall, S Olding (McCloskey 13), R Lyttle (Olding 50).