Iain Morrison: Relief for Pro14 execs as Glasgow head to Celtic Park

Kyle Steyn runs through to score 'Glasgow Warriors' fifth try. Picture: SNS
Kyle Steyn runs through to score 'Glasgow Warriors' fifth try. Picture: SNS
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If you heard a sigh of relief at full-time it was coming from the Pro14 executives who somehow have to fill the 60,000-seat Celtic Park for next weekend’s final and, with the Warriors there, they have a fighting chance.

This match was won in the opening half with three home tries, before Glasgow scored another four after the break.

Rarely have Dave Rennie’s team played such a flawless match, although the final will be a different matter.

Possession isn’t everything, as Glasgow proved against Edinburgh only recently, but it is 
difficult to score without the ball and Ulster couldn’t get their hands on it.

After 17 minutes Glasgow were 14-0 ahead and had enjoyed roughly 80 per cent of territory and 70 per cent of possession. It doesn’t get much better than that, even if Ulster may be kicking themselves for opting to play into the wind in the first half after winning the toss.

They lost three lineouts, one of which was five metres from Glasgow’s line. It came after Ulster’s best attack of the half, which was Ulster’s only attack of the half.

The visitors earned a penalty and instead of taking the easy three they kicked to the corner and made a complete hash of the lineout which fell tamely to man of the match Matt Fagerson, who didn’t even have to jump to claim the ball.

Their scrum was little better and a stark warning against attempting to play without a rock solid set piece, a lesson that Glasgow learned the hard way, mostly in the 1872 Cup.

After winning one early penalty the Ulster set scrum found itself under the cosh and on 27 minutes Adam Hastings made them pay off the tee with three points directly from a scrum penalty.

The one place where Ulster had an advantage was in the maul but it was only in the final quarter, with the match long gone, that the visitors’ big men muscled their way over the Glasgow line… twice.

You can be sure that Leinster and Munster will have been taking notes.

The visitors rallied briefly in the third quarter but Jacob Stockdale spilled the ball just yards from the Glasgow line under pressure from Kyle Steyn who impressed throughout.

From the ensuing set scrum Zander Fagerson earned his corn by winning another scrum penalty. WP Nel will have to give it big licks to keep Fagerson out of Scotland’s starting XV in the World Cup.

There was an online meme last week likening the Warriors’ bench to the Avengers and sure enough Oli Kebble took the part of The Hulk… without turning green.

The big South African, perhaps frustrated at being a bench bunny, smashed through several tackles on his first carry after joining the action on 52 minutes. Minutes later Tommy Seymour scored Glasgow’s fourth, Steyn their fifth and the Horne brothers contributed tries six and seven.

Hastings started Steyn’s try with a neat chip deep inside his own half of the field which is not in any official manual but worked this time because Stuart Hogg was running the line to retrieve possession.

Hastings also created the first of Glasgow’s tries with a long rugby league pass that fell 
perfectly for Tommy Seymour and his understanding with 
Ali Price went a long way to winning this game.

Glasgow will go into the final full of confidence but Ulster were well below and the 
driving maul remains an 
Achilles heel.