Ulster v Glasgow: Warriors show character but are outgunned in Belfast

Danny Wilson's side fought bravely but lacked the experience and firepower to really threaten

Grant Stewart scored Glasgow Warriors' second try. Image: ©Craig Watson
Grant Stewart scored Glasgow Warriors' second try. Image: ©Craig Watson

Ulster 40

Glasgow Warriors 10

PLENTY of character on display from Glasgow Warriors but, in the end, the score-line reflected that this was a contest between two teams at very different stages in their evolution.

Warriors are still only four points adrift from the play-off placings despite having managed just one win from five matches so far in PRO14 Conference A, but they have a long month stretching ahead of them when their already lightweight squad will be without a dozen international players plus some significant injuries, and a similar scenario is on the cards for the Six Nations. In the circumstances, it is hard to see how they can be truly competitive against the big Irish provinces over the course of the season.

At least they get next week off due to Dragons dealing with a Covid outbreak, but they then face another daunting challenge when Munster come calling to Scotstoun in fortnight’s time.

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That was the month that was: October 2020

“We had a mixture of 7s players, Super6 players, our own club players and boys coming on loan just this week who had only spent two days with us,” pointed out head coach Danny Wilson. “So, I can’t ask for more than that they show that fight, spirit and heart which they gave us.

“Granted, we got over-powered a bit in our 22 and gave up some really soft scores in the second half from playing in the wrong areas, but then we went back to playing a bit more like we planned to and put some pressure back on.”

“If the effort is there and they don’t give in, then I’m proud of that and we’ll build on that. It is going to be hard – we are 18 to 20 players down at the moment so that is hurting us – but we’re staying focussed on that group we’ve got here.

“Credit to Ulster, during a three-year period under Dan McFarland they have really built something and only lost a few players to Ireland. Munster in two weeks’ time will be more depleted so we’ll just have to see how we go.”

It doesn’t rain but pours, and Warriors suffered another set-back during the warm-up when highly-rated teenage scrum-half Jamie Dobie called off with a shoulder problem, meaning Sean Kennedy was promoted to the starting fifteen, with Caleb Korteweg added to the bench for his first involvement since signing on a short-term deal from Stirling County Super6 side last week.

Ulster have not lost at home in any competition since October 2018, and despite falling behind to a fourth minute try from TJ Ioane, after some good build-up work from the always lively Niko Matawalu, they didn’t ever really look like giving up that proud record here.

Ulster bounced back with three power-tries from hooker John Andrew, No8 Marcell Coetzee and second-row Sam Carter, before Matawalu was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on as the precursor to the home backline getting in on the act through their excellent scrum-half John Cooney, who picked up and scampered home following a half break from Iain Madigan, meaning the bonus point was in the bag before the break.

Glenn Bryce did well to cut out a cross-field kick from Madigan as Ulster pushed for try number five at the start of the second half, but it was only a temporary reprieve before Michael Lowry and Andrew combined down the left touchline to send man-of-the-match Sean Reidy home.

Ulster wing Matt Faddes piled on the misery when he chased down his own hack ahead to capitalise on a Warriors fumble in midfield, and with over 20 minutes still to play it looked like the scoreboard might really run away from Warriors, but they regrouped well and even managed to secure a consolation try through hooker Grant Stewart.

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Teams –

Ulster: M Lowry; C Gilroy, L Marshall (E McIlroy 51), S Moore, M Faddes; I Madigan (B Johnston 47), J Cooney (D Shanahan 68); E O’Sullivan (K McCall 53), J Andrew (A McBurney 60), M Moore (G Milasinovich 60), K Treadwell, S Carter (A O’Connor 47), M Rea, S Reidy, M Coetzee (M Rea 60).

Glasgow Warriors: G Bryce; R Tagive, R Fergusson, S McDowall (B Thomson 47), N Matawalu; P Horne, S Kennedy (C Korteweg 74); A Seiuli (A Allan 53), G Stewart (J Matthews 67), E Pieretto (D Rae 51), R Harley (H Bain 73), K McDonald (L Bean 51), R Wilson, T Gordon, T Ioane (F Lokotui 53).

Referee: N Owens


Scorers –

Ulster: Tries: Andrew, Coetzee, Carter, Cooney, Lowry, Faddes; Con: Cooney 5.

Glasgow: Tries: Iaone, Stewart; Cons: Horne; Pen: Horne.

Scoring sequence (Ulster first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 7-7; 7-10; 12-10; 14-10; 19-10; 21-10; 26-10; 28-10 (h-t) 33-10; 38-10; 40-10.


Yellow cards –

Ulster: Lowry

Glasgow: Matawalu

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  1. Even before the spectre that is Covid arrived there was concern that Glasgow/Scottish rugby would not invest significantly in the Warriors.”We must bring in a high profile replacement for Hogg” was the quote. Then it became “we hope to unearth another Hogg from the young crop coming through”. How many full backs have we tried since? David Rennie saw the signs and scarpereed.

    • Rennie arrived late to Glasgow, which impacted recruitment. He was already in Aus mentally way before he left and that impacted recruitment for this season – and Covid knackered it totally and stopped the attempts to sign a fill back for this season

      What we are seeing is in part Rennie’s legacy. There wasn’t and never will be the money to recruit a high profile player to replace Hogg, that’s a fantasy. Had he had the wit to try out Huw Jones there, we just might have moved on a bit quicker. Glasgow was a stepping stone for him, it was never anything else. I don’t criticise him for that – ambition to get a top job is not to be criticised, but we need to be realistic about that. If SRU recruit a “name” on the way up to coach Glasgow or Edinburgh, they accept for one reason only. Its life, a job, a career. We can get those who have fallen from grace like Cockerill or Robinson (and may come good again) who might stick around

  2. Interesting to read Danny Wilson’s comments. I don’t think Richard Cockerill would come out with those sort of excuses. Wilson’s job is to set a high bar for his team and get them to aspire to achieving it – not complain about the hand he has been dealt. It would be great to see the squad strengthened but it’s not about to happen. Look how many young players stepped up for Edinburgh. Glasgow need to get their defence sorted out. How much of that is mindset?

  3. Are we not simply reaping what we have sowed?

    Lots of investment in top down short term fixes in the form of overseas players; and what appear to be vanity projects in Nice and Old Glory, which could instead have been used to build from the bottom up thus increasing the flow of raw material into our academy systems which do seem to be producing good quality, but in not enough numbers.

    This when coupled to lack of game time stilting player development, leaves us where we are today.

  4. to be clear James, I’m not bashing the Irish, just stating how things are. I wish we had the same finances, resources etc. It makes a huge difference. The IRFU got their approach to pro rugby 25 years ago spot on, we have been trying to play catch up ever since. Their blazers got behind a good plan, our blazers were so busy planning their next expenses paid jaunt they nearly bankrupted us

  5. Let’s focus on Glasgow – yes we were missing players, yes we are forced to field 2nd or 3rd choices but that gives an excuse for losing but not for leaking tries like a rusty bucket. Edinburgh have the same issues they won convincingly and look really hard to beat. Glasgow have been in steady decline, which is now accelerating since the Leinster final. And if Ireland can raise substantial funds all power to them. If scotland had those funds would the folks on here be saying don’t spend them? I think not.

  6. A very concerning decline in Glasgow Warriors since that 2019 final against Leinster. The writing has been on the wall for some time, I had very low expectations for this season but brutally our season is an absolute tatters already. The fact is that we have singularly failed to put in a good 80 mins of rugby yet this season. In all matches we have shown glimpses but then either fallen away or been overpowered, or both. Connacht and Ospreys away are two games we absolutely let slip and in seasons gone by two games we would have had both the nous and the depth to win, but that just shows where Glasgow are right now.

    For the best part of a decade we have been competing in Pro finals and semi finals, also highly competitive and making the break through to Euro quarter finals. It looks right now like we are on track for Cardiff Blues or Dragons esque absolute mid-bottom table nothingness. I have seen absolutely nothing in these games to convince me Wilson is the right man at the helm either. Of course we are struggling right now with a huge number of players away for Scotland, but everything else outside of that seems to be falling apart. A painful season ahead and god knows what lies ahead further down the line.

  7. maybe the chat for scottish rugby will go from “scotland need more than two professional teams” to “i cant believe scotland cant manage two pro teams”. sorry but international comps not a good enough excuse for me, look at almost every other pro club side, premiership pro 14 and everything inbetween, they all can still perform with players away, budget or otherwise

    • well we can’t afford more than 2 teams. In fact currently we are struggling to finance them both and both likely to lose key players this season in budget cuts.

      On last night, Glasgow were 19 players missing to Scotland (and Fiji) and injured. From a squad of about 42. Ulster had a couple of injuries and 5 to Ireland, and have a bigger budget to start off with. Much bigger. Go figure

  8. Thought when I saw the team, this could be a tough night, and so it proved.Not sure what has gone wrong, but this does not look like Glasgow of old. If you want to blood new players should you not do it against the weaker teams. Where were the Scottish internationals not on Scotland duty. There seem to be a lot of long term injuries like Lee Jones and Gray seems to be injury prone. There does not seem much coming through the academy and we knew we were short on 10’s and 15’s and with Hastings gone for a while that is only going to get worse. It’s going to be a long hard season with little reward at the end of it. Not sure the format of the play-offs but we seem to be playing for 3rd place at the moment.

    • Al, they needed to bring in players to make up the 23 last night (Bean and Corteweg) only youngster was Bain (on the bench and not that young any more) and they resisted fielding some of the academy backs

      I think this season was a write off before it started, pandemic killed off recruitment and this 8 team international series with the Scotland covid bubble means Glasgow team who will play in the HC will only meet up the week before it! Then play a couple of rounds, be rested due to SRU protocols, play another couple of round of HC then off to 6N
      Dumping that on a new coaching team is a huge ask

  9. Ulster Radio last night obviously didn’t get the message that Jamie Dobie was not playing as they kept going on about him!

  10. Is it time to start publishing the player budgets for teams in the league, because its becoming painfully obvious that Welsh, Italian and Scottish teams are being out spent by teams in Ireland?

    • good luck getting anything from the Irish. Its not too difficult to work out roughly the budgets for the others, but the Irish accounting across provinces and IRFU is like one of those complex corporate multi company set ups designed to cover every thing up!

      Suffice to say that most folk who who look into this believe that Leinster outspend any English team. Munster and Ulster not too far behind.

      The solution would be a salary cap, but again the Irish would not agree to it and it would be difficult to enforce across different jurisdictions (as an example the Irish tend to turn up for disciplinery hearings with 3 QCs and the hearings then take 3 times longer than for other players)

    • Personally I dislike the bash the Irish nonsense every time Scottish and English clubs are struggling.

      The Irish are doing absolutely nothing wrong. Instead of criticising them for being successful people should try to learn from them.


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