Major win for Ulster over Glasgow

Date published: October 11 2014

Late tries in the second half from Craig Gilroy and Tommy Bowe put Ulster on track for an important 29-9 win over Glasgow Warriors.

Late tries in the second half from Craig Gilroy and Tommy Bowe put Ulster on track for an important 29-9 win over Glasgow Warriors.

The hosts, who led at half time, were further helped by a superb kicking performance from fly-half Ian Humphreys.

The home effort, full of aggression and forward power, was typified by skipper Rory Best, who put in a barnstorming Man of the Match performance.

Glasgow replied with three Finn Russell penalties, but just couldn’t match the intensity of the hosts. The Scottish side will hope that this performance was just a blip in their sterling early-season form.

It was the Scottish giants that made the better start, with the Warriors driving hard at Ulster’s defensive line. And the early pressure paid dividends when Russell coolly slotted a penalty on seven minutes to make it 0-3 to the Scottish pacesetters.

But the hosts, who have been misfiring of late, responded well and made inroads of their own through an effective rolling maul.

These incursions allowed Humphreys, restored in place of the injured Paddy Jackson, to cancel out Glasgow’s earlier effort when he nailed a 10 minute penalty from the right hand side of the park.

With a warm sun beating down on the immaculate Ravenhill turf, and the two sides having settled their initial nerves, the game was set up nicely.

A powerful Ulster scrum on 16 minutes saw Wiehahn Herbst exert massive pressure on opposite number Fraser Brown, and led to another penalty attempt for Humphreys. The Ulster pivot made no mistake with the resulting kick to give the hosts a 6-3 lead.

But Russell restored parity for Glasgow two minutes later with another well-taken kick. By the end of a compelling opening quarter, therefore, there was precious little between the sides.

The home maul was beginning to wear the Scottish visitors down, and another good drive on 21 minutes permitted Humphreys to land another fine kick to earn the Ravenhill men a 9-6 cushion.

The Belfast side were also starting to string together some decent phases, with Nick Williams punching holes through the middle, and Andrew Trimble making several incisive runs. But what really bolstered the hosts was their superb scrum, and it was surprising to see the extent of Ulster’s dominance in that area.

The Ulster front row thus earned another penalty on 31 minutes, and Humphreys again made no mistake with his kick. It was now 12-6 to the Irish province. The pivot had another chance to extend the lead on 34 minutes, but this time narrowly missed the effort.

It mattered little, though, as another Glasgow transgression on 36 minutes saw the Ulster fly-half nail another penalty to make it a healthy 15-6 to Ulster. By half-time Glasgow were starting to play catch up.

The second half started well for the Scots men, and a Russell penalty on 43 minutes allowed them to claw it back to 15-9. And there was certainly renewed energy from the Warriors at the beginning of the second period. But the Blues just couldn’t translate increased possession into try-scoring opportunities.

As it was, it was Ulster who had an excellent chance to score the first try of the evening when Jared Payne seemed to have touched down on 59 minutes, but Nigel Owens decreed that the ball went dead and disallowed it.

The game had a more unstructured look in the second half, and the intensity seemed to have dipped somewhat from the first period. But the match re-ignited on 66 minutes when replacement Gilroy took a neat inside ball from Humphreys, and the Irish winger made a pulsating run down the right wing before getting the ball down.

Humphreys added the extras to make it 22-9. Fellow winger Bowe got in on the act three minutes later when he swept up a stray ball in the Glasgow half before running unopposed to score.

Humphreys converted to earn his side a significant 29-9 advantage. The Warriors, who by now were hampered by several injuries, vainly tried to infuse their attack with impetus, but time and again were repelled by the Ulster defence.

The hosts thus held on to seal a thoroughly deserved win. Glasgow will be disappointed with the outcome, but will acknowledge that Ulster had the edge throughout this entertaining encounter.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Tries: Gilroy, Bowe
Cons: Humphreys 2
Pens: Humphreys 5

For Glasgow:
Pens: Russell 3
Yellow Cards: Nakarawa

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Tommy Bowe, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Andrew Warwick.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 Bronson Ross, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Stuart Olding, 23 Craig Gilroy.

Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Josh Strauss (c), 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Adam Ashe, 21 Niko Matawalu, 22 James Downey, 23 Sean Lamont.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Correll (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

by Rory McGimpsey