James Eddie was the Glasgow Warriors hero when he crossed for a dramatic last-gasp try to snatch victory for Gregor Townsend’s men at Ravenhill last night.
Glasgow seemed set to leave Belfast with a losing bonus point – and they would surely have been happy with that having been on the back foot for long periods – but they came with a superb late rally to secure the win.
And they achieved it despite having a man in the bin for the closing moments of a game which always seemed to be heading in the direction of the home side.
Ulster needed a solid start after their disappointing loss in Newport on the opening weekend and Paddy Jackson, off target with three kicks in the loss to the Dragons, provided it with some pinpoint accuracy this time.
Glasgow, semi-finalists for the past two seasons and buoyed by an opening weekend win over Cardiff, gave an early indication that they meant business with an early penalty from Stuart Hogg after some strong pressure.
But Jackson kept his nerve after ten minutes to steer a difficult first kick between the posts from 30 metres on the left.
A crosskick from Jared Payne almost put Michael Allen over for the opening try after 14 minutes but Glasgow’s defence was superb in the opening half.
However, they coughed up penalties as they dealt with the increasing onslaught from Ulster and Jackson punished them.
He edged them in front after 18 minutes with a kick in front of the posts after he, Payne, Declan Fitzpatrick and Roger Wilson had displayed good hands going forward.
And Jackson made it 9-3 after 23 minutes with a superb effort from 45 metres after the returning Nick Williams had made the hard yards with a typical barnstorming run. However, Glasgow countered well and DTH van der Merwe raced through and seemed poised to score when he chased Ruaridh Jackson’s superbly measured chip but Ulster scrum-half Ian Porter did enough to thwart him as they both raced for the ball at the butt of the left post.
Warriors, though, reduced the margin just short of the half hour when excellent work by the Glasgow forwards, where Jonny Gray slotted in well, yielded a penalty opportunity for Hogg and the Lion made no mistake from 35 metres on the left.
Ulster responded strongly and while Glasgow again kept them at bay, again it was at the expense of a penalty and Jackson duly slotted it to make it 12-6 at the interval after Hogg was off target with a long distance effort just before the break.
Glasgow got on top after the restart and really took the game to Ulster, but while they patiently built the phases they never looked like finding a way through the home defence.
Ulster did not give Hogg a chance to reduce the margin with the boot and it was the home side who looked the more likely to score.
They should have pulled away when good work from Darren Cave and hooker Rob Herring created an opening for Allen but he knocked on with the line in sight.
And the hard-working Marshall also failed to hold the ball after Ulster cracked the Glasgow defence off a lineout with swift passes from Paul Marshall and Jackson creating the opening but Marshall was unable to finish after 62 minutes.
Glasgow were struggling to stay in the game and it took a superb double tackle from Tommy Seymour and Gray to hold up Allen over the line after 64 minutes.
Paddy Jackson had a chance to put Ulster nine in front with eight minutes remaining but he hooked his penalty from just outside the 22 on the left.
Then Glasgow were reduced to 14 men for the remainder of the game when replacement prop Moray Low was binned for killing the ball six minutes from time. Nevertheless, Glasgow piled on the pressure in the closing minutes in an effort to maintain their winning start to the campaign.
They forced Ulster on to the back foot and forced a couple of five-metre scrums, but then conceded a penalty just when it seemed they were poised for a real smash and grab job.
But Glasgow didn’t give up and countered again – and while it took a superb tackle from Irish lock Iain Henderson to deny van der Merwe, they kept up the pressure and Jackson found an opening to put Eddie over in the final play of the night.
Hogg still needed to convert to win the game with the kick from just right of the posts and while it went just inside the left post it was enough to snatch a dramatic victory.
Scorers: Ulster: Pens: Jackson (4). Glasgow: Try: Eddie. Pens: Hogg (2). Con: Hogg.
Ulster: Payne, McIlwaine, Cave, Marshall, Allen, Jackson, Porter (Marshall 59); Black (Court 63), Herring, Fitzpatrick (Lutton 63), Muller (Henderson 59), Tuohy, Wilson, Doyle (Henry 63), Williams.
Glasgow: Hogg; Seymour, Lamont (Ascarate 56), Bennett, van der Merwe; Jackson, Pyrgos (Cusiter 66); Grant (Reid 70), MacArthur (Gall 56), Kalman (Low 59), Swinson (Kalman 77), Gray, Harley (Eddie 74), Holmes (Fusaro 56), Strauss (Vernon 56).