Townsend de­light as War­riors go whole Hogg for fa­mous five

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Gre­gor Townsend praised the self-be­lief and fight­ing qual­i­ties of his Glas­gow War­riors team last night as they beat Ulster 27-17 at Scot­stoun to in­crease their prospects of claim­ing a play-off place in the PRO12.

The de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons and Ulster are now both on 51 points, just out­side the top four in the ta­ble, but Glas­gow have a game in hand on Ulster and the other teams above them – Con­nacht, Le­in­ster, Scar­lets and Mun­ster.

Stu­art Hogg had an early lapse when he was yel­low­carded in the open­ing min­utes for a pro­fes­sional foul, but he re­deemed him­self with a fine in­di­vid­ual try and the last­minute penalty which de­nied Ulster a los­ing bonus point.

“I think the yel­low card was a wee bit harsh, but you can un­der­stand why the ref­eree gave it,” Townsend said. “He [Hogg] re­sponded very well. He didn’t get the best pos­ses­sion, but he’s full of en­ergy and his try re­minded me of the one he scored here against Ulster in the last game of the reg­u­lar sea­son last year. We’ve got that be­lief that if we keep at­tack­ing the tries will come – and the goal kick at the end was never in doubt, was it?”

The War­riors have five games of the reg­u­lar sea­son left - against Tre­viso, Ze­bre home and away, then Scar­lets and fi­nally Con­nacht. Their fate is in their own hands.

GLAS­GOW re­cov­ered from a shaky start to record their fifth win in a row last night and close in on the play-off places in the PRO12. That slug­gish be­gin­ning and an early yel­low card for Stu­art Hogg were omi­nous signs, but the War­riors grew stronger as the game went on and prof­ited from some ex­cep­tional mo­ments of skill from the full­back, Finn Rus­sell and Tommy Sey­mour.

The po­ten­tially most vi­tal mo­ment, how­ever, came at the death when Hogg stretched his team’s lead to ten points. That meant no bonus point for Ulster – some­thing that could be im­por­tant in the fi­nal shake-up in a league where at least six teams are chas­ing those four play-off spots.

The War­riors were lucky not to con­cede a try in the open­ing minute af­ter a Ruan Pien­aar charge­down went just too long, then a minute later only a pro­fes­sional foul by Hogg de­nied a score. The full-back was sin­binned, but the open­ing score was only de­layed.

The try-scor­ing move be­gan from a five-me­tre scrum, and was largely due to swift re­cy­cling. Two phases af­ter the set piece Pien­aar fed Stu­art Old­ing, and the full-back then passed inside to flanker Iain Hen­der­son, who crossed close to the posts. Paddy Jack­son con­verted, and Ulster were well worth their seven-point lead.

No fur­ther dam­age had been done, and the War­riors had be­gun to as­sert their pres­ence as an at­tack­ing force, by the time Hogg re­turned to the ac­tion. The tempo of Ulster’s counter-at­tacks con­tin­ued to cause the home team trou­ble at times, but by the end of the first quar­ter Glas­gow had be­gun to ex­ert a lot of pres­sure. In the end, though, it was only with a penalty that they got on to the score­board, Finn Rus­sell kick­ing the points af­ter he had been tack­led late.

Five min­utes later, the stand-off added a sec­ond penalty, this time af­ter Ulster prop Cal­lum Black had gone off his feet at a ruck. Those two awards were far from the only oc­ca­sions on which the visi­tors had re­sorted to il­le­gal meth­ods, but ref­eree John Lacey ap­peared to opt for a lais­sez-faire ap­proach.

Jack­son stretched Ulster’s ad­van­tage to four points with his sec­ond penalty five min­utes from half-time, but in the last minute be­fore the break Rus­sell coun­tered with his third to take the score to 9-10. The War­riors started the sec­ond half on the front foot too, but then a lapse of con­cen­tra­tion cost them as they con­ceded a sec­ond try.

Sean La­mont shep­herded a long Pien­aar kick ahead into touch safely enough, but then, as three or four Glas­gow play­ers stood wait­ing for the li­ne­out to form, Craig Gil­roy threw in quickly to Stu­art McCloskey, who could hardly be­lieve his luck as he scam­pered across the line.

Glas­gow cap­tain Jonny Gray tried to sug­gest that the ref­eree seek the help of the TMO to de­ter­mine whether the throw had trav­elled five me­tres, but he was told to go away. It was a close call, al­though the frus­tra­tion from the home crowd was un­der­stand­able given that in the first half the ref­eree had called back sev­eral at­tempts by the War­riors to take penal­ties or free kicks quickly.

A long-range penalty by Rus­sell fell short, but then a mo­ment of bril­liance from Hogg brought the War­riors back into the match. Gath­er­ing a pass inside his own half, the full-back chipped ahead, beat three de­fend­ers to the ball, then touched down. The score was re­ferred to the TMO, but it rightly stood. Rus­sell was again off tar­get with the con­ver­sion at­tempt, but min­utes later con­jured up some magic of his own that led to his team’s tak­ing the lead for the first time. The fly-half’s cross-kick to the right was gath­ered by Tommy Sey­mour close to half­way, and the winger had the speed to out­strip his pur­suers to score. Rus­sell’s con­ver­sion made it 21-17 with quar­ter of an hour to play, and Glas­gow then had to turn to de­fence for a long stretch be­fore a penalty against Ulster fi­nally re­lieved the pres­sure.

Coach Gre­gor Townsend changed his whole front row with ten min­utes to play, then Rus­sell added an­other three points with a penalty. The stand-off was wide with an­other at­tempt three min­utes from time, but in the last ac­tion of the match Hogg was on tar­get with that kick from inside his own half.

Glas­gow tries Hogg, Sey­mour. Con: Rus­sell. Pens: Rus­sell 4, Hogg. Ulster: Tries: Hen­der­son, McCloskey. Cons: Jack­son 2. Pen: Jack­son.

Glas­gow War­riors S Hogg; T Sey­mour, M Ben­nett, A Dun­bar, S La­mont; F Rus­sell, H Pyr­gos (G Hart 67); G Reid (J Yanuyanutawa 70), F Brown (J Mal­colm 70), S Puafisi (Z Fager­son 70), J Gray, L Nakarawa, R Har­ley, C Fusaro (R Wil­son 24), J Strauss (T Swin­son 64). Un­used sub­sti­tutes D Weir, T Nai­yar­a­voro.

Ulster S Old­ing; C Gil­roy, L Marshall, S McCloskey, R Sc­holes (D Cave 78); P Jack­son, R Pien­aar (P Marshall 76); C Black (K McCall 64), R Her­ring, R Lut­ton (A War­wick 76), A O’Con­nor (R Di­ack 28), F van der Merwe, I Hen­der­son, C Henry, N Wil­liams (S Reidy 41). Un­used

sub­sti­tutes J Andrew, S Wind­sor. Ref­eree J Lacey (Ire­land).

At­ten­dance 6800.

Pic­ture: SNS

JOB DONE: Cap­tain Jonny Gray takes the ac­claim of the Glas­gow sup­port­ers af­ter last night’s cru­cial vic­tory over Ulster at Scot­stoun moved the PRO12 cham­pi­ons ever closer to a play-off spot.

Pic­ture: SNS

KEY MO­MENT: Stu­art Hogg scores Glas­gow War­riors’ first try of the evening.

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