Nervous finish for Ulster as PRO12 simmers up at the top

Glasgow Warriors Chris Cusiter charged down by Ulster's Luke Marshall
Glasgow Warriors Chris Cusiter charged down by Ulster's Luke Marshall

Ulster will assess their injury toll this morning and be glad of a week’s break from PRO12 action before going into two crucial Irish derby games which will determine how their season will finish.

The official opening of Ravenhill Stadium on Friday, May 2, will see the reigning RaboDirect PRO12 champions and current league leaders, Leinster, come to Belfast.

Eight days later Ulster travel to play Munster in the final game of the regular league season hopeful that they may only need a losing bonus point to guarantee them a place in the play-offs by finishing in fourth place.

The loss to Glasgow on Friday night was disappointing, but it also left head coach, Mark Anscombe, with major concerns as he saw another plethora of injuries to players .

Tom Court, Ricky Lutton and Declan Fitzpatrick - all props - suffered injuries and the Ulster management can only hope Callum Black will make a return as planned against Leinster.

Ballymena tighthead, Andy Warwick, has a couple of caps to his name and now finds himself in the front line following Friday’s injuries to Lutton and Fitzpatrick.

John Afoa continues to receive treatment to a back injury, but there is a concern he may not play in an Ulster shirt again this season before his move to Gloucester over the summer.

Ulster dropped to third place - Munster’s win over Connacht on Saturday night putting them into second place three points ahead.

Glasgow remained in fourth place with the win over Ulster but crucially they closed the gap to a point and they hold the trump card in that they have a game in hand.

Ulster had a few gripes - mostly justified - with the officials, although it was not just referee John Lacey.

The Television Match Official, Jim Yuille, ruled a Nick Williams try out and then amazingly awarded a try to Glasgow when Mark Bennett practically threw the ball at the try line!

However, it was not the officiating which saw Glasgow over the line, they backed up their win in Limerick a week earlier with a solid display - Ulster simply were not on their game once again in spite of a good first half.

Anscombe said: “We played pretty well in the first-half but a couple of “soft” tackles allowed them in for a soft try right on half-time and that meant that instead of being 9-3 up we went in trailing 10-9 down at half-time.

“There were decisions that it must have been pretty evident to everyone went against us.

“I mean, Nick Williams scored a try, Luke Marshall was penalised for a ‘tackle turnover’ - that was a poor decision. He went into the tackle, won the ball legitimately, and we were penalised.They score - then the other try they scored wasn’t a try.

“Other decisions didn’t go our way. It was disturbing that we allowed this to happen. There wasn’t enough fight in our ranks.

“The run-in won’t be very good if we play like we did today.”