‘We fell on the wrong side of the referee, and we just couldn’t work it out’ - Dan McFarland

Steven Kitshoff made his debut in cracking URC encounter as Ulster fall to defeat away to Glasgow

URC: Glasgow 33 Ulster 20

It had looked a big ask of Ulster even before things got under way at a bitterly cold Scotstoun and the scoreline told its own tale, though the narrative of the Irish province’s second reverse of the season was still a frustrating one.

In a familiar enough pattern to how things went during the northern province’s previous away trip at the start of the month to Galway, Ulster’s notable early accuracy and ambition had put them in front – 14-0 last Saturday, 20-3 at the Sportsground – only for that to be whittled away and overtaken.

Yet while Dan McFarland’s side had lost by just two points at Connacht, a rampant second half effort from the ultra-physical Warriors ensured that the hosts triumphed by a much more comfortable 13-point margin. Their five total tries elevated Glasgow to the summit of the URC table.


Ulster’s defensive cohesion ultimately cracked under the strain of Glasgow’s second half assault, the hosts having tied things up at 14 points apiece at the interval. The province’s attacking intent became a blunt instrument once the teams had changed ends.

Even Steven Kitshoff’s first involvement when joining in the 49th minute failed to rescue things, save for shoring up the scrum. Ulster have reason to feel that fortune was already working against them; Nathan Doak, originally travelling as a 24th man, ended up having to unexpectedly sit on the bench instead of Jake Flannery who withdrew before kick-off. Doak, a scrumhalf by trade, had to play outhalf for most of the contest as Billy Burns departed early.

Throw in an injury list which saw McFarland select academy player James McNabney for his senior debut at number eight in what was a callow starting backrow, as well as having fellow academy member Zac Solomon covering at hooker, and the odds were always looking somewhat stacked against the visitors.

Even so, McNabney had a strong game, and, in fairness, Ulster had enough artillery in Iain Henderson, Tom Stewart, James Hume, Jacob Stockdale, John Cooney, who scored 12 of the visitors’ total on his first start of the season, in addition to replacements Kitshoff, Marty Moore and Alan O’Connor.

But Glasgow’s power surge ground Ulster down and ultimately extinguished their resistance, racking up 19 points in the second 40 minutes. In the same period, Ulster scored a mere six.

“I’m really disappointed but a lot of what we did in the first half was excellent particularly around our defence,” McFarland said afterwards.

“But for some reason we fell on the wrong side of the referee, and we just couldn’t work it out,” he added.

“It meant that we put ourselves under a lot of pressure and then in that first half after we had scored those first two tries, we didn’t finish sets so that put us under more pressure.

“Then in the second half we really didn’t get a grip of the physicality of the game. The amount of penalties we gave away at the breakdown, that’s what swung the momentum of the game and they got their mojo going.”

Early converted tries from Stewart and Cooney had Ulster 14-0 up after just 11 minutes but Glasgow responded through Sean Kennedy and then George Turner’s score just on half-time tied things up, Tom Jordan converting both.

Kyle Rowe’s well-worked 50th minute try gave the Warriors the lead for the first time and saw Kieran Treadwell sent to the bin.

After Cooney nicked a penalty, Matthews impressively claimed his first on 58 minutes with Jordan again converting the bonus point score. Doak landed a 63rd minute penalty to cut the lead to six points, but there was no losing bonus point available once Matthews had his second, Jordan’s fourth conversion following.

Scoring sequence: 5 mins T Stewart try, J Cooney con 0-7; 11mins J Cooney try and con 0-14; 20mins S Kennedy try, T Jordan con 7-14; 41mins G Turner try, T Jordan con 14-14; h-t 14-14; 50 mins K Rowe try 19-14; 56mins J Cooney pen 19-17; 58mins J Matthews try, T Jordan con 26-17; 63mins N Doak pen 26-20; 71mins J Matthews try, T Jordan con 33-20.

Glasgow Warriors: J McKay; S Cancelliere, S Tuipulotu, S McDowall (capt), K Rawe; T Jordan, S Kennedy; J Bhatti, G Turner, Z Fagerson; G Peterson, S Cummings; M Fagerson, R Darge, J Dempsey.

Replacements: J Matthews for Turner, O Kebble for Bhatti, S Vailanu for Darge (all 57 mins), L Sordoni for Fagerson, R Gray for Cummings, S Manjezi for Peterson, D Weir for Tuipulotu (all 71), B Afshar for Kennedy (76). .

Ulster: W Addison’ R Baloucoune, J Hume, L Marshall, J Stockdale; B Burns, J Cooney; E O’Sullivan, T Stewart, M Moore; K Treadwell, I Henderson (capt); H Sheridan, R Crothers, J McNabney.

Replacements: Matty Rea for Sheridan (14-18 mins), N Doak for Burns (19), S Kitshoff for O’Sullivan, M Moore for O’Toole, A O’Connor for Henderson (all 49), Rea for Sheridan (52), D Shanahan for Cooney (60), B Moxham for Marshall (64), Z Solomon for Stewart (71).

Yellow card: K Treadwell (50 mins)

Referee: B Whitehouse (Wales).