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.
“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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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
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 –