ULSTER 36 GLASGOW 15
Ulster ensured their season is far from over with a composed second half display which saw them to a deserved 36-15 win over Glasgow Warrioirs in Belfast.
In securing the bonus point win, Ulster guanrateed themselves a play-off for a European Champions Cup place next season, but they also kept alive chances of making the Guinness PRO14 final series.
They go to Munster next week knowing that a bonus point win and Edinburgh getting nothing would see them finish third in Conference B.
Early Ulster pressure eventually led to a penalty, Glasgow coming in from the side and scrumhalf John Cooney opened the scoring with a well struck penalty after four minutes.
The physicality from Ulster was good, but so was the tempo and the backline enjoyed some good exchanges but failed to get the final hand to the pass.
Scottish international Stuart Hogg showed how dangerous he can be, dancing out of his own ‘22’ and giving the ideal offload to winger Lelia Masaga. But it came to nothng.
Ulster remained in the ascendency and, after putting pressure on the Scots in thier ingoal area and forced the scrum.
It looked so simple from Cooney as he picked up at the base and went over from close out. He added the extras and Ulster had a 10-0 lead after 12 minutes.
Shortly after the home side lost backrow Jean Deysel to injury, Clive Ross the replacement.
Glasgow crept their way back into the game and a penalty from outhalf Finn Russell on 18 minutes and then hooker Fraser Brown burst through several tackles and timed his offload to bacrow Callum Gibbins for the try,. Russell converted to level the scores on 21 minutes.
The Scots now had their tails up and Ulster’s defence was being tested. Centre Alex Dunbar looked as though he had got over for a try - it went upstarts for the TMO - and it was ruled out.
Ulster weathered a small storm and then a great break out by Cooney gave respite, his kick ahead just bouncing out. Ulster were now on the front foot, but a decent attack broke down under the Glasgow posts and another opportunity went abegging.
It swung either way, Glasgow had a great chance on 36 minutes when former Ulster player Tommy Seymour broke clear, but with a two man overlap he managed to fluff his pass.
It then came back Ulster’s way, Nick Timoney’s break saw Charles Piutau scamper away on the left. He linked iwth Louis Ludik and then Coooney, before ball was sprayed to the right when Sean Reidy made some ground before giving to Luke Marshall who was bundled into touch.
It was brought back for a penalty for Glasgow offside Cooney obliging and then, as Ulster came again with the final play of the half, the visitors infringed and Cooney sent his side in 16-10 ahead at the break.
Paul Marshall was a half time replacement for Ulster, on for Cooney - an HIA assement - to make what could potetnially be his last home appearance for the Province after announcing his retirement earlier in the week at the end of the current season.
Glasgow made the early pressure and a penalty to touch saw drive from the lineout yield a try for Gibbins. Russell’s penalty hit the post to leave his side trailing 16-15.
After exerting some pressure, Ulster finally got the breakthrough with Mccloskey’s offload to Timoney sending the backrow over in the corner.
Outhalf Johnny McPhillips landed a quality conversion from the touchline to extend the Ulster lead to 23-15 after 56 minutes.
It sparked a flurry of attacks from Ulster and eventually Reidy forced his way over on the hour mark.. McPhllips’ conversion missed but the hosts now had a solid advantage and one try away from a crucial bonus point.
Ulster opted to take the points when a penalty came their way, McPhillips increasing the lead to 31-15.
Kingspan took to its feet on 69 minutes as Tommy Bowe made his entry onto the field in what potentially could be his last home game in the white jersey,another to retire at the end of the current season.
Ulster pressed and pressed for that defining fourth try, urged on by a hugely supportive crowd, but Glasgow rebuffed them time and time again
But two minutes over the time and with the final play of the game Ulster showed great composure and eventually Timoney delighted the home support when he went over in the corner to secure the full five match points.
Ulster: C Piutau; L Ludik, L Marshall, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; J McPhillips, J Cooney; A Warwick, R Herring (capt), R Kane; A O'Connor, K Treadwell; N Timoney, S Reidy, J Deysel
Replacements: R Best (Herring 60), K McCall (Warwick 53), T O'Toole (Kane 60), R Diack, C Ross (Deysel 15), P Marshal (l (41), A Curtis (McPhillips 72), T Bowe (L Marshall 69).
Glasgow Warriors: S Hogg; T Seymour, H Jones, A Dunbar, L Masaga; F Russell, A Price; A Allan, F Brown, S Halanukonuka; S Cummings, T Swinson; R Harley, C Gibbins (capt), M Fagerson
Replacements: G Turner, R Grant, Z Fagerson, G Peterson, M Smith, H Prygos, P Horne, N Grigg