Glasgow Warriors (7) 17
TRY: Gordon Reid, Tommy Seymour. CON: Finn Russell (2). PEN: Finn Russell
Ulster (15) 22
TRY: Darren Cave, Penalty Try, Paddy Jackson. CON: Paddy Jackson (2). PEN: Paddy Jackson

Ulster moved to the top of the PRO12 with a close, but convincing, win against Glasgow on a wet and windy Friday evening at Scotstoun.  

We’d predicted an Ulster win, though they would make hard work of it, and that’s pretty much how it turned out, the only additional point of note being the poor standard of refereeing which did neither side any favours, somewhat taking away from the continuity of the match in what ended up as difficult enough conditions. 

As we sat in the rain lashed stand, and Jared Payne crossed for Ulster’s first disallowed try, I turned to the crowd around and stated that Ulster would win this by 30 points such was their early dominance. Apart from whipping up the locals into a flurry of antipathy my statement was perhaps a tad too optimistic; the refereeing team finding reason to call back the play to penalise and yellow card Iain Henderson, for a tackle on his old mate Tommy Seymour, a decision showing little empathy for the game. 

By that stage Ulster were three points up after a early Jackson penalty, but they had already left ten points on the field. No matter, for minutes later, while down to 14 men, a break by Charles Piutau was quickly moved right for Darren Cave to cross in the corner. The conversion was missed but the  0 – 8 score started to reflect the run of play. 

It didn’t last for long, however, as Glasgow replied almost immediately with Gordon Reid going over from close range, the home side kicking to the corner from a penalty offence at the restart. Soft, soft, try from Ulster and, with the conversion following from Finn Russell, it was a one point game with the score at 7 – 8 as we moved into the second quarter.  

Another Ulster effort was disallowed at the start of the second quarter, this time a breakaway by Herring, Ah You and Henderson, from an impressive Ulster maul, totally misinterpreted by the refereeing team who wheedled and worried at the replays until they could find an offence, but with Ulster totally dominant in all aspects of play they were soon back on the attack but looked to have fluffed another chance when Piutau was chopped down just short of the line. 

This time the decision went Ulster’s way but it was an equally ludicrous interpretation with Ulster being awarded a penalty try for the no arms tackle on Piutau! No worries, decisions just about evening out with Ulster taking a 7 – 15 lead into the break. 

Another outstandingly pedantic decision by the refereeing team conspired to give Russel his first penalty at the start of he second half when we all should have been applauding a magnificent break by Jackson and the score clicked along to 10 – 15 as the 50 minutes came and went. 

However by the hour mark the home side were in front when a break by Henry Pyrgos was moved wide for Seymour to stroll over in the corner. Russell added he extras and Glasgow led by two points. Surprisingly, no referral to the TMO for the final forward pass! 

Amazingly, or amusingly, Glasgow looked to defend their lead with twenty minutes to go, though in truth the hard working but limited home side offered little outside of graft  and probably felt more comfortable running their defensive patterns. 

It wasn’t to be however and with 18 minutes to go a wonderful break by Louis Ludik was moved on expertly by Pienaar and Cave for Jackson to slide home under the posts, Jackson converted to push the score to 17 – 22 and Ulster had the capability to defend the lead, the home supporters knowing the game was lost as they streamed out of a one score game with 5 minutes to go. 

Ulster: Jared Payne, Louis Ludik, Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey, Charles Piutau, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar, Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Rodney Ah You, Alan O’Connor Franco vd Merwe, Iain Henderson, Sean Reidy, Roger Wilson. Replacements: Rory Best, Callum Black, Ross Kane, Pete Browne, Clive Ross, Paul Marshall, Stuart Olding Rob Lyttle

So four out of four for Ulster, and they have still yet to hit their stride. They haven’t bagged the points that their silky backline warrants, in fact there’s five teams that have scored more, but their miserly defence has made all the difference. A few more tries would be nice though!