Glasgow Warriors 33-20 Ulster

Glasgow Warriors 33-20 Ulster

Glasgow Warriors fought back from an early deficit to go top of the BKT United Rugby Championship standings this evening, running in five tries to claim a bonus-point 33-20 victory over Ulster at a sold-out Scotstoun.

A brace off the bench from Johnny Matthews and scores from Sean Kennedy, George Turner and Kyle Rowe secured all five points under the Saturday night lights, the Warrior Nation rising to acclaim their team at full-team.

On a bitingly cold night at Scotstoun, it was the visitors who struck the first blow. Successive penalties saw Billy Burns put his side within five metres of the Glasgow try-line, before the rolling maul proved too much for the Warriors defence to halt. Tom Stewart was the man who would get up with the ball, John Cooney converting for a 7-0 lead after as many minutes.

Cooney himself would make it a quickfire double for the Ulstermen just four minutes later, darting over from close-range to dot the ball down. A referral to the TMO deemed Cooney to have fumbled the ball backwards before grounding, Cooney himself converting to make it a 14-0 scoreline.

Sparked into life with a sold-out Scotstoun urging their team forward, the Warriors roared back into action. Strong midfield carrying from Sione Tuipulotu and Jack Dempsey earned the home side a penalty, from which George Turner’s burst for the line put Glasgow on the front foot. With the pack hammering away at the line, it would be scrum-half Kennedy who spied the crucial gap, sniping over for the score from five metres out. Tom Jordan converted, making it a 14-7 ball game with 20 minutes played.

The Warriors were now in full flight, a full-blooded burst from Rory Darge and good interplay from Kyle Rowe and Matt Fagerson taking the hosts into Ulster territory with the noise levels rising. Yet the Ulster defence would hold firm while pinned in their own 22, the white wall bending but not breaking as the half drew to a close.

With the last play of the opening stanza, however, the Warrior Nation would be celebrating once more. Over 20 phases of Glasgow pressure would force Ulster into transgressing, and from the resulting penalty the pack went to work. Turner would be the beneficiary as the maul rumbled over the whitewash, Jordan’s conversion levelling the scores at 14-14 at the break.

Franco Smith’s men picked up where they left off at the start of the second period, Sebastian Cancelliere’s dancing feet taking him clear of Jacob Stockdale and into Ulster territory. Only some last-ditch defence from the visitors could prevent Tuipulotu capping a thunderous charge for the line with a try, as the Warriors sought an early breakthrough.

The Warrior Nation would not be made to wait for long, though. Constant Glasgow pressure eventually told on 50 minutes, as swift handling inside the Ulster 22 found Josh McKay sweeping around the outside. The full-back’s pass was perfectly timed to send Rowe over the line for his second try in as many matches, giving the Warriors a 19-14 lead.

Cooney would narrow the gap to 19-17 on 56 minutes, striking a penalty from 50 metres after Glasgow were penalised for offside. Yet the Warriors were in no mood to hang around; superb hands from Stafford McDowall and Cancelliere would see Kennedy feed the flying Matthews, the hooker racing over from 25 metres just 90 seconds after coming off the bench. Jordan would convert the bonus-point score to make it the full seven points, extending the home side’s lead to 26-17 in the process.

A penalty from Nathan Doak would bring Ulster within a converted try once again on 63 minutes, only for Matthews to bring Scotstoun to its feet once more. A second try of the night would follow after yet another spell of Glasgow pressure, the hooker bringing Scotstoun to its feet and raising the roof once more. The coolest head in the stadium belonged to Jordan as the fly-half added the extras, taking the scoreline to 33-20 in Glasgow’s favour, a scoreline the hosts would defend resolutely as the clock ticked down.

A maximum haul of points for the third successive week, and top spot in the table secured; a trip to defending champions Munster awaits in just six days time, before the visit of Northampton Saints to Scotstoun and the start of another Investec Champions Cup adventure.

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