Ulster keep up pressure with scrappy win over Glasgow
Golden phase either side of half-time sees them keep Leinster in sight in Conference A
Adam Hastings holds on against Ulster’s Eric O’Sullivan, John Cooney and Stuart McCoskey. Photograph: Getty Images
Glasgow 13 Ulster 19
Ulster kept up the pressure on leaders Leinster with an important away win against Glasgow in a match where the visitors burst to life late in the first half and for a 20-minute period in the second. It was enough, even when they fell to 14 men in the closing minutes of a scrappy game in Scotstoun.
The first half for almost its entirety was about both sides trying to get to grips with continuity. Handling errors ripped through the two teams and although Glasgow began smartly with go forward ball their early lineouts let them down after Adam Hastings twice kicked for touch and attacking positions rather than taking the points.
But Glasgow were unable to turn the scoreboard, a lot of broken play hindering progress all round. On 21 minutes and from Ulster’s first attacking platform Kieran Treadwell caught well and Marcel Coetze tore away from the maul to grunt and bump his way over the Glasgow line.
But on review the backrow, bound for South Africa next season, was adjudged not to have turned from his back and grounded the ball. Leone Nakarawa, who will play with Ulster next year, was in the defensive tangle of bodies.
The fractured game continued with both teams struggling to establish any dominance or real territorial advantage. It wasn’t easy on the eye.
But on 35 minutes Eric O’Sullivan failed to roll away and Glasgow, this time, opted to kick the penalty at goal. Scottish outhalf Hastings made sure as the home side nudged ahead 3-0.
A few minutes later Ulster opened up for the first time in the match. O’Sullivan punching through in the Ulster half off loaded to Kieran Treadwell, who fed Ian Madigan. All the time moving forward Madigan found centre Stuart McCloskey who offloaded the ball to James Hume before going back inside to Cooney.
With fullback Michael Lowry on his shoulder Cooney hit him and Lowry accelerated through to finish a fine offloading sequence of play. The first and only fluid move of the first half and Ulster coasted in, Cooney converting to send his side into the break 3-7 in front.
The lack of accuracy and execution continued into the second half with Hastings again kicking a penalty for Glasgow on 50 minutes for a scrum infringement from Ulster, to take it to a one-point game.
But then Ulster found their confidence and stride and suddenly the passes seemed to stick. Madigan, O’Toole and Cooney combined sweeping forward with Lowry coming in to feed Craig Gilroy and he scored out wide, where he had fallen short minutes earlier.
The conversion missed, Ulster led 6-12 but as the hour passed they continued to sweep forward in their best phase of the evening. Sensing it could be the winning of the match, an attacking lineout secured the ball and the pack muscled over the Glasgow line, Nick Timoney emerging with the grin and Ulster’s third try of the night.
Cooney converted for 6-19 and within a 20-minute phase through halftime Ulster moved from struggling with their accuracy to thinking bonus point. But there’s nothing like a grandstand finish and when replacement Abe Mathewson deliberately knocked on and the referee showed him yellow, Glasgow found a second wind.
Within two minutes they were on the Ulster line and a man up, New Zealander Aki Seiuli finally bullocking his way past the depleted visitors, the conversion taking it to 13-19. Ulster didn’t panic, Madigan kicking the ball into the stands with the clock in red, relieved and still in the hunt.
Scoring sequence - 37 mins: A Hastings pen 3-0; 40 mins: M Lowry pen, J Cooney con 3-7. (Halftime). 50 mins: A Hastings pen 6-7; 56 mins: C Gilroy try 6-12; 63 mins: N Timoney try, Cooney con 6-19; 77 mins: A Seiuli try, R Thompson con 13-19.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: H Jones; R Tagive, R Fergusson, S Johnson, R McLean; A Hastings, J Dobie; O Kebble, J Matthews, E Pieretto; R Gray, L Nakarawa; R Harley, T Gordon, R Wilson (capt). Replacements: G Stewart or Matthews (44 mins); TJ Ioane for Nakarawa (57); A Seiuli for Kebble (60); J Scott for Wilson (62); R Thompson for Hastings (63); S Kennedy for Dobie (70), D Rae for Pieretto (71).
ULSTER: M Lowry; C Gilroy, J Hume, S McCloskey, R Lyttle; I Madigan, J Cooney; E O’Sullivan, J Andrew, M Moore; A O’Connor, K Treadwell; N Timoney, J Murphy (capt), M Coetzee. Replacements: T O’Toole for Moore (47); A McBurney for Andrew, A Warwick for O’Sullivan (both 50); C Izuchukwu for Treadwell (57); A Mathewson for Cooney (68); M Faddes for Gilroy (71). Yellow card: Mathewson.
Referee: B Blain (Scotland).