Ulster defeat Glasgow for winning start to United Rugby Championship
Ulster started their United Rugby Championship campaign with a bonus point win over Glasgow at Kingspan Stadium by 35-29 - but had to depend on some heroic defending on their own line in the last 10 minutes to close the game out.
It took Ulster only three minutes to get the game’s opening try as, following a great play by Stuart McCloskey and Robert Baloucoune, the home side progressed close to the Glasgow line and hooker Brad Roberts was illegally stopped on the line. Ulster went to the corner, Glasgow again conceded another penalty, Billy Burns kicked to touch again, the home pack were stooped before the ball was spun wide, with an overlap Glasgow full back Cole Forbes shot out of the line and deliberately knocked the ball on, he was yellow carded and referee Ben Whitehouse awarded Ulster a penalty try.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Glasgow were able to breach the Ulster defence nine minutes later.
They switched the ball to the short side, centre Sione Tuipulotu evaded weak tackles from Burns and Baloucoune before off-loading to George Horne and the scrum half darted over in the corner but Duncan Weir missed the conversion.
Ulster scored 17 maul tries in all competitions last season and Roberts got the first of this campaign on 23 minutes, the home side turned down a penalty in front of the post to go for the corner, the forwards set up the drive and Roberts was propelled over with Cooney converting.
Weir slotted over a penalty for the Warriors two minutes later.
Glasgow dominated the closing five minutes of the first half and were rewarded in injury time with a second try.
They created pressure in the Ulster 22, forcing three penalties. From the third one they took a quick tap, they went right then changed the angle of attack before hooker Johnny Matthews squeezed over and Ross Thompson’s conversion gave Glasgow a 15-14 interval lead.
Ulster regained the lead three minutes after the restart, Burns kicked a penalty to the corner, Rob Herring broke off the maul and went close. Mick Kearney and Sean Reidy had a probe before Nathan Doak hit Marty Moore and the prop crashed over, Doak converted.
Ulster secured the try bonus point five minutes later, Burns’ probing kick into the Glasgow 22 was gathered by Jacob Stockdale and he released Nick Timoney to power over, Doak knocked over the conversion from a tight angle.
Glasgow were awarded a penalty try on 54 minutes.
Stockdale made a great try-saving tackle on winger Rufus McLean, as the Glasgow player tried to place the ball over the whitewash James Hume dived on him, stopping him getting over the line. A try was given after consultation with the TMO and the Ulster centre was sin-binned.
Momentum swung Ulster’s way again on 59 minutes, Will Addison charged down Thompson’s attempted clearance, the full back gathered. Thompson got back to make a try-saving tackle but Addison popped the ball to Doak and the scrum half went over for his first try for the province, which he converted.
Glasgow replacement scrum half Jamie Dobie finished off a sweeping move on 65 minutes to give the Warriors a try bonus point with Thompson converting.
Glasgow were camped in the Ulster’s 22 for the last 10 minutes but couldn’t force a winning score.
Ulster: McIlroy; Baloucoune, Hume, McCloskey, Stockdale; Burns, Cooney; Warwick, Roberts, Moore, O’Connor, Carter; Jones, Reidy, Timoney
Replacements: Herring, O’Sullivan, O’Toole, Kearney, Rea, Doak, Lowry, Addison
Glasgow Warriors: Forbes; Steyn, Tiupulotu, Johnson, McLean; Weir, Horne; Thyer, Matthews, Berghan, Cummings, Gray; Wilson, Darge, Dempsey
Replacements: Brown, Bhatti, McCallum, Bean, Harley, Dobie, Thompson, Smith
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