Glasgow 8 - 19 Ulster: Glasgow facing Heineken Cup exit
GLASGOW’S hopes of reaching the Heineken Cup quarter-finals for the first time were virtually washed out at a wet Scotstoun last night as the Springbok magician Ruan Pienaar steered Ulster to a second pool win on the trot.
Glasgow – Try: Matawalu. Pen: Horne.
Ulster – Try: Henry. Con: Jackson. Pens: Jackson (4)
With Northampton losing in Castres, the door was opened for Glasgow to level up Pool Four with a home win, but despite a fine scrum and unstinting defensive work, they could not match the silky skills of the Ulster scrum-half.
A frustrated Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend said: “We are clearly very disappointed not to have produced the win we all wanted for a great home crowd. The players battled very well the whole game long but we didn’t play consistently enough over the piece to win.”
Confidence has been generated in the Scottish game on the back of a £1m-plus investment in the squads, which has meant stronger depth, but quantity can never overshadow quality and last night provided a clear example of that.
While Scotstoun enjoyed its best atmosphere since the Warriors move this year, with a capacity 6,200 crowd – enhanced by a large and typically vocal Ulster contingent – revealing a unique match feel for Glasgow’s new venue, the rain dampened hopes of a flowing game.
Kicks to the heavens proved the early tactics for both sides, and when the goal-kickers went for goal they struggled too. Glasgow could not retain ball long enough to create momentum, but with the Warriors pack continuing from where they left off in Northampton on Sunday, and dominating early scrums, another came his way and he hit the target this time to put Glasgow 3-0 up after 20 minutes.
Pienaar, a one-match destroyer against Glasgow last season, then manufactured a swift response. It began with a grubber kick through to the home 22 which was picked up by Byron McGuigan, but the Springbok scrum-half was on to McGuigan and forced a penalty against the Warriors’ newcomer for holding-on on the ground, and duly kicked it between the uprights.
Pienaar then provoked Stuart Hogg into giving away a lineout with another kick into the 22, and from the set-piece Kellock was penalised at a ruck, allowing Jackson to open his account with a penalty in the 28th minute.
Once again, it underlined the value of such a quality player, as the game turned from early Glasgow promise into a defensive work-out for the men in blue deep in their own half.
The Warriors, clearly not keen to repeat the mistake of Franklins Gardens, where they let a 15-0 lead slip in the minutes before half-time, picked it up as the half-time neared. They lost McGuigan to injury, replaced by versatile Fijian scrum-half Niko Matawalu, and Chris Fusaro to the blood-bin, with John Barclay replacing him, and Horne missed a chance to pull them level, sending a penalty across the face of the posts from the right.
Then lady luck smiled on them. Pienaar again having opened up their defence with a neat chip into the 22, which almost bounced perfectly for Andrew Trimble, but was still rucked well by the Ulster support and should have led to a try, but tighthead prop John Afoa dropped a pass ten metres out. That was a major let-off as, close to the posts, a seven-pointer in a tight match could have had a similar match-swinging effect as Northampton’s double.
The second half came minus the rain, but opened similarly otherwise, stand-offs hoisting balls skywards, Glasgow’s terrific scrum winning a penalty and Horne kicking it wide of the uprights.
Horne then had a pass intercepted by Jackson, and was forced off dazed having been injured trying to rectify the error, which brought fly-half Scott Wight into the fray at inside centre.
Ulster then took a firmer grip of the game with big forwards Johan Muller, John Afoa and Nick Williams leading the way. While the Glasgow pack toiled hard, Ulster had a greater punch about their attack. Glasgow’s defence had to work over-time, the players having been left in no doubt that a handful of defensive lapses had ruined their efforts at Northampton, yet across most facets of the game, the Scots, missing their international core to injury, were having to work harder to stand still against an Ulster side littered with world-class talent.
The Warriors did not shirk the work, and a big Alex Dunbar tackle was roared by an appreciative crowd, but the third quarter action remain mostly in the home half.
Jackson did not help matters by missing touch with what should have been a pressure-relieving penalty, and with Ulster contesting the breakdown more vigorously than Northampton did,
Hogg provided an attacking platform when he chased and caught his own Garryowen, but typical of Glasgow’s stuttering display Barclay was penalised at a subsequent ruck and Pienaar just fell short in his attempt to turn that penalty, inside his half, into another three points.
With the game finely poised at 6-3 in favour of the Irishmen on the hour-mark, Ulster struck. They surprised Glasgow by driving a lineout and had little trouble crashing over the line. TV replays showed that flanker Chris Henry had grounded the ball, leaving Jackson to convert and follow up minutes later with a penalty to open up a 13-point gap that on this night had ‘unassailable’ written all over it.
Jackson added a third penalty with five minutes remaining, and then Glasgow did get over the Ulster line, Ruaridh Jackson revealing his talent with a scything break to launch an attack that ended with Matawalu talking Wight’s crossfield kick and diving into the right-hand corner.
It was scant consolation on a night when quality had the edge.
Glasgow: P J Payne; T Bowe, D Cave, P Wallace, A Trimble; P Jackson, R Pienaar; T Court, R Best, J Afoa, J Muller (capt), D Tuohy, I Henderson, C Henry, N Williams. Subs: L Stevenson on for Tuohy 61mins, C Black for Court 69, L Marshall for Wallace 70, C Gilroy for Trimble 72, M McComish for Henderson 73, P Marshall for Jackson 75.
Ulster: S Hogg; B McGuigan, P Murchie, P Horne, A Dunbar; R Jackson, H Pyrgos; R Grant, D Hall, M Cusack, T Swinson, A Kellock (capt), J Strauss, J Barclay, R Wilson. Subs: N Matawalu for McGuigan , S Wight for Horne 44, J Barclay for Fusaro, R Harley for Strauss, both 50, F Gillies for Hall 69, O Fainga’anuku for Cusack 70, T Swinson for Ryder 75,
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east