Glasgow Warriors 50
STUART BATHGATE @ Scotstoun
GLASGOW are through to the PRO14 final after a devastating display saw them run up a half-century of points against a hapless Ulster. The Warriors scored seven tries, the first of them coming in the opening minutes, and Adam Hastings added six conversions and a penalty to make it a far more dominant performance than even their most optimistic supporters might have dreamed of.
Ulster may have been some way below their best, but make no mistake, this was all about Glasgow’s brilliance in attack. They may have to take a slightly tighter, more cautious approach at Celtic Park next Saturday against either Leinster or Munster, but they will go into that game in extremely confident mood after such a magnificent performance.
The Warriors’ explosive attacking intent was evident right from the opening minute, when Kyle Steyn broke for more than 50 metres from well inside his own half. The offensive continued, and a couple of minutes later a floated pass from Hastings put Tommy Seymour in at the corner in a move reminiscent of the decisive score in the same fixture four years earlier by DTH van der Merwe off a Finn Russell pass. The stand-off converted, and Glasgow maintained their dominance throughout the opening quarter-hour.
Even when Ulster did manage to mount a real attack ball in hand inside the home half – something which took them all of 16 minutes – they were soon thwarted. Not only did they concede possession at that point by giving away a penalty, they soon conceded a second try too, with Ali Price darting over from the base of a maul, easily outpacing Iain Henderson to the line. Hastings again added the two points.
Ulster then had another chance to open their account when they were awarded a series of three penalties, the last of which was very kickable. But they went for the lineout, which was stolen by Glasgow, so another opportunity bit the dust.
Hastings rubbed it in with a penalty to stretch his team’s lead to 17-0, and although John Cooney replied with a three-pointer just before the half-hour after Rob Harley had been deemed guilty of obstruction at the restart, the remainder of the half belonged to Glasgow.
Like Ulster before them, they turned down the option of going for the posts when awarded a penalty in good position. Unlike Ulster, they turned the potential three points into an actual seven, with Harley applying the coup de grace from three metres out and Hastings again converting from right in front of the posts.
The visitors needed to come out fighting right from the start of the second half if they were to have any hope of reversing their 21-point deficit, but when they eventually established a threatening position, they found the Warriors defence in no mood to let them through, with Steyn forcing Jacob Stockdale into a knock-on out of the tackle.
If that was a setback for Ulster, worse was to come for them after 55 minutes when Seymour scored his team’s fourth try. A stolen line-out provided the initial platform, and several phases later Sam Johnson’s half-break was carried on by Stuart Hogg before the full-back fed the winger for an easy touchdown.
Hastings missed for the first time of the evening, but by that stage it was only a technicality. And just in case anyone had lingering doubts about the outcome, Glasgow grabbed their fifth try a couple of minutes later.
It was Hastings who began the move from deep with a clever chip ahead, which Hogg caught on the full before feeding Ryan Wilson. The substitute exchanged passes with Steyn, and the centre eventually stretched his legs and eased past the last two defenders to dot down. The conversion was good this time to make it 36-3.
Marcell Coetzee grabbed Ulster’s first try just after that score, but Billy Burns’ conversion attempt went wide, leaving Dan McFarland’s side four full scores behind as the game went into the final quarter.
That became five when, with penalty advantage being played, George Horne put in a beautiful chip from the back of a close-range line-out drive for his big brother and fellow-substitute Peter to collect and dot down. Ulster replacement Rob Herring got his team’s second off the back of a maul, with Burns converting, but the younger Horne reminded the visitors who was in charge five minutes from time when he swapped passes with Hastings before touching down. The stand-off’s conversion made it 50 points.
Michael Lowry got a third, unconverted try right at the death, but that was no consolation for an Ulster side who had been second best from first to last.
Glasgow Warriors: S Hogg; T Seymour, K Steyn, S Johnson (P Horne 59), D van der Merwe (H Jones 68); A Hastings, A Price (G Horne 61); J Bhatti (O Kebble 52), F Brown (G Stewart 56), Z Fagerson (D Rae 67), S Cummings (R Wilson 56), J Gray, R Harley, C Gibbins (capt, T Gordon 68), M Fagerson.
Ulster: M Lowry, L Ludik, L Marshall (D Cave 59), S McCloskey, J Stockdale (A Kernohan 68); B Burns, J Cooney (D Shanahan 47); E O’Sullivan (A Warwick 50), R Best (capt, R Herring 61), R Kane (T O’Toole 50), I Henderson, K Treadwell (A O’Connor 52), N Timoney (S Reidy 48), J Murphy, M Coetzee.
Glasgow: Tries: Seymour 2, Price, Harley, Steyn, P Horne, G Horne; Cons: Hastings 6. Pen: Hastings.
Ulster: Tries: Coetzee, Herring, Lowry; Con: Burns. Pen: Cooney.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 17-0; 17-3; 22-3; 24-3 (h-t) 29-3; 34-3; 36-3; 36-8; 41-8; 43-8; 43-13; 43-15; 48-15; 50-15; 50-20.
Referee: J Lacey (Ireland).