Glasgow Warriors' bonus points are scant reward after thriller against Ulster

Glasgow Warriors came out the wrong side of a try-fest in Belfast in a game they didn’t deserve to lose. Ulster prevailed 35-29 but they were hanging on at the end of a pulsating United Rugby Championship opener.

Rory Darge, right, celebrates as Johnny Matthews scores Glasgow's second try. Picture: James Crombie/INPHO/Shutterstock
Rory Darge, right, celebrates as Johnny Matthews scores Glasgow's second try. Picture: James Crombie/INPHO/Shutterstock

If this is the sort of the fare the new tournament is going to serve up then we are in for an exciting season.

Glasgow at least have two bonus points to show for their efforts as the home side edged them out by five tries to four. In a raucous encounter watched by a noisy crowd, both teams conceded penalty tries in incidents which saw yellow cards for Glasgow full-back Cole Forbes and Ulster centre James Hume.

It was a torrid start for Glasgow, who found themselves seven points behind and reduced to 14 men with only three minutes on the clock. Ulster began the match at a ferocious pace and Forbes was sent to the sin-bin after rushing into the line to palm the ball away from an offside position as Ulster’s backs were queuing to score. It was a case of double jeopardy for Glasgow as Whitehouse awarded a penalty try to go with the yellow card.

Sione Tuipulotu of Glasgow Warriors leaves Ulster's Robert Baloucoune in his wake. Picture: James Crombie/INPHO/Shutterstock

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After a botched restart the visitors finally managed to get a toehold in the game and conjured up a fine try. Sam Johnson’s low flat pass took out the Ulster defence and was collected smartly by Sione Tuipulotu who broke Robert Baloucoune’s tackle before offloading to George Horne, who ran in the score.

Weir couldn’t add the extras and was struggling to find his range in open play too, kicking a couple out on the full.

Ulster increased their lead with a try from a lineout drive, hooker Brad Roberts delivering the goods. John Cooney converted.

Weir reduced Ulster’s lead to 14-8 with a penalty after player of the match Rory Darge had won a turnover, but both sides lost their kickers to injury on the half-hour mark.

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Glasgow finished the half strongly and Johnny Matthews’ pick-and-drive try was just reward. Ross Thompson, on for Weir, converted to give the visitors an improbable 15-14 interval lead.

It didn’t last long. Ulster came out the traps impressively in the second half and scored two tries in five minutes. Marty Moore, the home tighthead, spun over from close range for the first and then No 8 Nick Timoney bagged the second, latching on to Jacob Stockdale’s pass after a measured chip from Billy Burns. Replacement Nathan Doak converted both and Ulster had turned a one-point deficit into a 13-point advantage.

Things were looking bleak for Glasgow but they were given a lifeline in the 54th minute. Rufus McLean looked to be in for a try in the corner but was stopped a yard short by a last-gasp tackle from Stockdale and then rolled into touch by Hume. The referee judged the Ulster centre’s actions to be illegal and sent Hume to the sin-bin and awarded Glasgow the penalty try.

The Warriors revival stuttered when Thompson’s kick was charged down by Will Addison who popped the ball up for Doak to cross.

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Glasgow were not done yet, though, and produced a quality try to secure the bonus point. A surging break by Kyle Steyn launched the attack and the irrepressible Darge took things on. Scott Cummings played his part before Thompson showed good vision to play in replacement scrum-half Jamie Dobie for the try. Thompson’s conversion reduced Ulster’s lead to 35-29.

Scorers. Ulster: Tries: Penalty try, Roberts, Moore, Timoney, Doak. Cons: Cooney, Doak 3.

Glasgow Warriors: Tries: G Horne, Matthews, penalty try, Dobie. Con: Thompson 2. Pen: Weir

Ulster: Ethan McIlroy; Robert Baloucoune (Will Addison 57), James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale; Billy Burns (Mike Lowry 76), John Cooney (Nathan Doak 30); Andrew Warwick (Eric O’Sullivan 41), Brad Roberts (Rob Herring 41), Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (Mick Kearney 41), Greg Jones (Matty Rea 69), Sean Reidy, Nick Timoney. Sub: Tom O’Toole.

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Glasgow Warriors: Cole Forbes; Kyle Steyn, Sione Tuipulotu (Ollie Smith 67), Sam Johnson, Rufus McLean; Duncan Weir (Ross Thompson 30), George Horne (Jamie Dobie 57); Brad Thyer (Jamie Bhatti 62), Johnny Matthews (Fraser Brown 50), Simon Berghan (Murray McCallum 48), Scott Cummings, Richie Gray (Lewis Bean 67), Ryan Wilson (c), Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey. Sub: Rob Harley.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)

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