Ulster beat Glasgow to go top

Date published: February 12 2016

Ulster fought back from 0-5 down to battle past reigning PRO12 champions Glasgow 13-10 at Kingspan Stadium and move top of the standings.

The Ravenhill men should really have put this one to bed much earlier as they outworked their opponents, but the Irishmen failed to convert territorial dominance into scores.

Despite lording possession in the first-half, the hosts actually went in at the break behind, Glasgow taking the lead with a try by winger Lee Jones. All Ulster had to show for their early dominance, however, was a Ruan Pienaar penalty.

The course of the game changed with the introduction of Paddy Jackson in the second-half, though, and when loosehead Callum Black got over for Ulster's only try, the hosts started to make their dominance count.

This victory was much more emphatic than the final scoreline suggests, with the Irish side looking quite comfortable in the end. Replacement Taqele Naiyaravoro managed to bag a losing bonus-point for Glasgow at the death, but Ulster stay top of the league, albeit on points difference.

Pienaar had the first chance after six minutes when Leone Nakarawa was penalised at the breakdown, but the South African made an awful connection with the ball and saw his penalty veer wide.

Glasgow made the hosts pay three minutes later. Gregor Hunter took the ball at pace from a good Glasgow maul and passed to centre Sam Johnson who'd picked a lovely line, before putting winger Jones away in the corner. Hunter missed the conversion, but the Warriors were deservedly 5-0 to the good.

Ulster came back well, though, using big forwards such as Nick Williams and Alan O'Connor to punch holes. This pressure helped the home side regain a foothold, and Pienaar got them on the scoreboard with a 23 minute penalty.

It looked as if the Belfast side had scored on 34 minutes when replacement Paul Marshall (on for a stricken Pienaar) grounded the ball, but Marius Mitrea (in conjunction with the TMO) didn't have sufficient certainty to award the try. It was a frustrating end to the half for an Ulster side that had dominated the game, but had precious little to show for it.

The second-half began, therefore, with Ulster looking to inject some impetus into their performance. Jackson's introduction was a good indication of their attacking intent, therefore. The hosts still had plenty of possession, but were repeatedly undone by their propensity to turn over the ball. As it was, Glasgow had the next tilt at points with a 48 minute penalty, but unfortunately Hunter was off target with his attempt.

But the introduction of Jackson had given the hosts an increased tempo. Craig Gilroy made a searing break on 53 minutes, but was held. His run allowed Ulster into the Glasgow 22, though, culminating in prop Black crashing over to score. Jackson converted to give Ulster a 10-5 lead. The Irish side had now hit its stride, and was only prevented from building a more substantial lead due to Herculean defending from Warriors skipper Ryan Wilson.

Jackson nailed a further three points on 66 minutes to edge his side further ahead. Glasgow's resistance, while resolute, began to crumble a bit in the last few minutes, especially when captain Wilson was yellow carded for bringing O'Connor down clumsily in the lineout. The Scottish club grabbed a consolation with the last play of the game when Naiyaravoro got over to secure the losing bonus-point, but it's Ulster that end the night top.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Try: Black
Con: Jackson
Pen: Pienaar, Jackson

For Glasgow:
Tries: Jones, Naiyaravoro

Ulster: 15 Stuart Olding, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Sam Windsor, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Alan O'Connor, 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rob Herring (c), 1 Callum Black
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Bronson Ross, 19 Chris Henry, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Sammy Arnold

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Glenn Bryce, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Gregor Hunter, 9 Ali Price, 8 Ryan Wilson (c), 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Ryan Grant
Replacements: 16 James Malcolm, 17 Alex Allan, 18 D'arcy Rae, 19 Josh Strauss, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Gary Conway (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

by Rory McGimpsey