A last gasp losing bonus for the Scotstoun men.
Glasgow hopped across the Irish Sea to the site of their glorious Pro 12 victory last year minus the usual plethora of Scotland internationals. The Ulster side had a real class to it, with Ruan Pienaar running the show from 9. The South African had the first chance of points, but missed an easy penalty, much to the surprise of everyone in attendance.
Further surprises were in store for the Kingspan crowd, with a searing Glasgow move involving Gregor Hunter and the ever impressive Sam Johnson giving Lee Jones an easy run in. The move looked like Glasgow of old, really bringing a smile to my face. Hunter missed the difficult extras.
In terms of highlights that really wasn’t for Glasgow until the 80th minute. Ulster were dominant in every facet of the game, but heavy resistance from Simone Favaro and Ryan Wilson in particular allowed the Scots to retain their lead, with Ulster only having a Pienaar penalty on 23 mins to show for their complete control of the game.
Glasgow were showing inexperience in their play, with Hunter and Ali Price both guilty of kicking poorly to the Ulster back 3. Craig Gilroy looked in great form and took advantage of this generosity to return the ball with interest a number of times. He was also kicking very well, ensuring that Glasgow stayed pinned in their 22. Somehow the men in black held out and the half time whistle couldn’t come quickly enough.
HT Ulster 3 – 5 Glasgow
The TV coverage gave us a nice insight into the dressing rooms, and Les Kiss was letting the Ulstermen know in no uncertain terms that he was rather displeased with their efforts.
The second period kicked off and it was more of the same, with Glasgow desperately hanging on under barrage of Ulster pressure. This pressure came to little and it was actually Glasgow with the next chance of points, but Hunter failed again. This seemed to spark Ulster into action, and a scintillating Gilroy break from another poor kick left Glasgow camped on their own try line. This time there was no mistake from the home side, with Callum Black flopping over to score his first try for the club on his 100th appearance. Paddy Jackson added the extras.
For Glasgow and possibly Scotland, the return from injury of Peter Horne was more than welcome. The centre/fly half looked very tidy in his 25 minutes, and really does have one of the best passes in Scotland.
Ulster increased their lead to 8 with 10 minutes to go, a penalty from Jackson pushing the Ulstermen closer to victory. Then Ryan Wilson got sin binned!
Now I usually don’t have any issue with hammering Ryan, with his lack of discipline a real bugbear of mine, but this time he was unlucky! Admittedly he probably shouldn’t be grabbing at people jumping in the lineout but 9/10 times it’s only a penalty. His reputation I believe has cost him on this one.
So 8 points down, 1 man short and up against a dominant team, it would have been easy for Glasgow to give up and head home. But this was an evening of surprises…
One last chance, a lovely chip kick to Naiyaravoro, and the Scots had the losing bonus. In a season where everyone seems capable of beating anyone, this bonus might be vital.
SRBlog Man of the Match: Craig Gilroy was sensational for the Irish and deserved the sponsors award. For Glasgow I particularly enjoy Simone Favaro’s brand of abrasive defence and he was involved in everything decent that Glasgow offered. Ryan Wilson was much improved and Sam Johnson was also excellent