GLASGOW 50 ULSTER 20
Ulster’s long wait for silverware goes on after they were blown away at Scotstoun on Friday night by a rampant and clinical Glasgow Warriors.
The Scottish side, aiming to repeat their Celtic League success of 2015 - they had beaten Ulster in a semi-final then too - dominated their Irish visitors from start to finish.
Any hopes of a fairytale finish to the Ulster careers of Rory Best and Darren Cave were as good as gone by the interval with Glasgow scoring three first half tries.
Ulster rallied slightly at the start of the second half, but the Scots were simply too good in all facets and scored a further four tries.
For Scottish international Stuart Hogg is was a night to remember, playing his part in a number of tries - and the perfect way to sign off his last game at Scotstoun before moving to Exeter Chiefs over the summer, although he still has a Celtic Park PRO14 final showdown to come against the winners of Leinster and Munster on Saturday.
Twelve months on from losing at home to Scarlets at the same stage of the competition, Glasgow knew the advantage of staging the semi-final was not a guarantee for success.
But they made the most of the frenzied atmosphere generated by the sell-out 10,000 crowd as they set about Ulster with a frightening intensity.
Steyn set the tone for Warriors as he spiked Ulster’s lines with a 40-yard charge within seconds of kick-off. Warriors kept their foot on the gas and grabbed a third-minute opener when Adam Hastings floated a perfect pass out for Seymour, who finished with style.
Glasgow chose to test the visitor’s line-out defences in the 18th minute and were delighted to find they were not watertight. Price collected off the base and spotting only lead-footed lock Iain Henderson in his way, scampered in down the short side for the score.
The Irishmen upped the ante in response but were rebuffed by some unshakeable defending from Rennie’s side, who nudged further ahead with a Hastings penalty on 29 minutes.
John Cooney got Ulster off the mark with a kick of his own a moment later but Glasgow were celebrating again just before the break as they applied forward pressure from a scrum, with Harley barging past Cooney from a yard out.
Hasting’s third conversion put them the home side 21 ahead at the break and the gap became insurmountable 15 minutes into the second period.
Seymour’s charge down on Jacob Stockdale’s kick pinned Ulster down inside their own 22 as Glasgow again moved up the gears. Sam Johnson drove on before popping off to Hogg who slotted in Seymour for his second.
The party was truly under way now and Warriors were in exhibition mode as they ran in number five two minutes later.
Hastings lobbed the ball forward as Hogg broke the line. He fed to Ryan Wilson who exchanged passes back and fourth with Steyn before the South African centre decided enough was enough and dotted down.
Coetzee grabbed a consolation try on the hour mark after nice play by Dave Shanahan just before the retiring Best brought the curtain down on his Ulster career as he made way for Rob Herron.
There may not have been a trophy to go with his 2006 Celtic League success but the British and Irish Lion’s contribution to the game was marked by the appreciative Scotstoun faithful, rising to afford him a standing ovation.
Their team, however, refused to show the same mercy and got in again on 68 minutes as George Horne kicked through for brother Pete to score.
Ulster’s Herring and Lowry crossed for two more late scores either side of George Horne’s touchdown as Glasgow cruised through.
It is 19 weeks to the start of the new season, Ulster will hurt hard from this performance, but will learn too.
Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Kyle Steyn, Sam Johnson, DTH van der Merwe;
Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Jamie Bhatti, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley, Callum Gibbins (capt), Matt Fagerson
Replacements: Grant Stewart, Oli Kebble, D’Arcy Rae, Ryan Wilson, Tom Gordon, George Horne, Pete Horne, Huw Jones
Ulster: Michael Lowry, Jacob Stockdale, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Louis Ludik; Billy Burns, John Cooney; Eric O’Sullivan, Rory Best (capt), Ross Kane, Ian Henderson, Kieran Treadwell, Nick Timoney, Jordi Murphy, Marcel Coetzee
Replacements: Rob Herring, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Sean Reidy, David Shanahan, Darren Cave, Angus Kernohan.