…Just thought I’d get to that headline before the papers do tomorrow.
So, it looked bad at the start for Glasgow as Paul Marshall – the Ulster scrum—half – scored with a break away try…
In the early stages the game looked looser than any game Glasgow have played all season. “End to end” action might be a cliché but that’s the only way to describe it. Glasgow seemed determined to run kicks back from everywhere including their own 22.
The highlight was a spectacular passage of play where Dan Parks was under pressure behind the try line and he passed the ball to Max Evans. The speedy outside centre then evaded tacklers and he and Parks worked well together, escaping Ulster defenders with good flowing passing and moving.
Evans looked free and had just a man to beat on his outside, but he kicked it. The ball stayed in play but for some reason Evans just stopped running, throwing away what was a great chance for a spectacular try.
The other highlight of the first half was the trademark Fergus Thomson run from his own 22 to the half way line – with speed a hooker really shouldn’t have – before Glasgow failed to capitalise.
Glasgow came out in the second half with blatant instructions – kick the ball constantly. This may or may not have had something to do with Simon Danielli playing full back for the whites. As well as Glasgow were running, Ulster looked under far more pressure when having to deal with a barrage of kicks from Dan Parks.
It was a game of two halves for Morrison. In the first half he was playing like old school Graeme Morrison of Autumn tests and before fame – a fumbling, bumbling, tree-trunk of a man. However in the second half he played like Graeme Morrison of the Six Nations, displaying direct, assured running.
The best sign of this was when Morrison scored his try in the second half. Instead of looking confused in space, he looked directly at the try line and seemed to know he would score.
However good Morrison’s try was, it was always going to be over shadowed by the set up from Johnny Beattie who was basically playing in a free role this entire game, popping up all over the pitch and often at outside centre. But instead of just taking the crash ball he appeared to be teaching Max Evans how to run. His run from behind the half way line was nothing short of incredible. He burst through a tackle and then did the most arrogant – but also brilliant – piece of evasion I’ve seen since the infamous O’Driscoll pass to himself.
When running at an Ulster defender with the ball in one hand, he just essentially shoved the ball in an Ulster defender’s face. He then sidestepped his way through the defence well into the Ulster 22. After another phase of play the ball went out wide to Morrison. This was the turning point of the match as the try really shattered Ulster’s confidence and they seemed out the game after that despite a late consolation try.
Beattie was the star of the show and his fellow flanker Brown was diligent as ever, but it appeared that Barclay is still recovering from the “emptying of himself” against Munster.
Parks was his usual self, even in clear scoring positions Glasgow took the sure-fire points by passing to Parks for the drop goal – of which he scored four.
In an impressive, flowing performance there were two main scares for Glasgow. The lineout was nothing short of pathetic. Fergus Thomson appeared to be replaced due to his poor throwing but Dougie Hall didn’t do much better.
The second was Parks being taken off after around 70 mins to give Jackson yet another opportunity. He injured himself yet again. For Glasgow he is a mix of completely injury prone and incredibly unimpressive – that’s a bad mix for the replacement of the integral Parks. Colin Gregor must feel very hard done by to be continually snubbed with Lineen favouring Jackson. Perhaps with McMillan leaving, he will be used as a deputy scrum half next season, but it will be disheartening if Weir, Jackson and Gregor are not involved in an open competition for Parks’ vacated jersey.
All that’s left to mention is that John Beattie probably won’t get another shot to kick a penalty for quite a while….