Townsend hails second-half showing, but wounded Warriors fall just a single try shy
GLASGOW went down to their second successive league defeat last night after a second-half fightback just fell short against hugely powerful opponents.
Ulster could have been out of sight, rather than merely 15-7 up, at the end of a first half in which they were by far the superior side.
The Warriors, sorely depleted by injury in that opening 40, performed considerably better in the second half and took the lead at one point, but over the piece they deserved no more than the losing bonus point.
It was the first time Gregor Townsend’s team had lost at home since their defeat by Scarlets at the start of last season, and only the second time in nearly three years.
The head coach was, however, encouraged by his team’s improved performance after the break.
“I thought we played very well in the second half, and I’m very proud of the effort,” Townsend said. “We had a disappointing start to our last two games, but we showed much more character and effort in the second half tonight.”
Paddy Jackson gave the visitors a sixth-minute lead with a long-range penalty, having earlier been wide of the mark with a closer effort.
Full-back Jared Payne thought he had added a try to that when he sliced through the Warriors defence to touch down, but the score was chalked off because of a dangerous clear-out by Iain Henderson in the build-up.
The flanker was yellow-carded, but Ulster soon extended their lead with a Darren Cave try. Charles Piutau had already left Stuart Hogg for dead in one left-wing attack, and on his second foray he made substantial inroads before the ball was spread right for Cave to touch down in the corner. The conversion attempt was missed.
The home team’s reply was immediate and emphatic. A series of rucks took the Warriors ever closer to the Ulster line, Finn Russell was halted just short, and then Gordon Reid finished the move off by diving over from a metre out. Russell, making his return from injury on his 24th birthday, converted the try.
The New Zealand hooker Corey Flynn, a late addition to the bench in place of Pat MacArthur, came on much earlier than anticipated when lock Greg Peterson was taken off injured.
Tjiuee Uanivi moved from the back row to his more usual position in the second row, Fraser Brown went from hooker to his old position on the flank, and Flynn slotted into the No.2 berth. There was further disruption when Uanivi was next to be forced off, with his place going to debutant Sam Thomson.
Ulster thought they had stretched their lead when Rob Herring touched down from a maul, but again, the Television Match Official ruled it no score, this time for obstruction in front of the ball-carrier by Rodney Ah You.
It was the correct decision, but the referee’s next big call was not so warmly received by the home crowd, as Ulster were awarded a penalty try when Leonardo Sarto stopped Piutau a few metres from the lineout without putting in a proper tackle.
The Italian winger was yellow-carded, Jackson added the two points from in front of the posts, and a half that had lasted almost an hour thanks to injury delays ended with Ulster 15-7 up. It could well have been a lot more.
Russell took his team’s tally to 10 with a penalty which was the first score of the second half, and although the Warriors had to endure some severe pressure after that, they hit back to level through a Tommy Seymour try in the right corner.
Russell, who had abandoned the protective headgear he was expected to wear for the rest of the season, converted to put his team ahead for the first time right on the hour mark.
The lead did not last. Within minutes, another lightning break by Ulster’s backs from a turnover in their own half ended with Jackson scoring by the posts, and the stand-off converted his own try.
Glasgow had chances to regain the lead, but Ulster proved as solid in defence as they had earlier been incisive in attack.
They maintain their 100 per cent record, while the Warriors travel to the Newport Gwent Dragons next week in a effort to return to winning ways.
S Hogg; L Sarto (R Hughes 49, N Grigg 76), M Bennett, A Dunbar, T Seymour; F Russell, H Pyrgos (A Price 72); G Reid (A Allan 28), F Brown, Z Fagerson (S Puafisi 51), G Peterson (C Flynn 23), J Gray, T Uanivi (S Thomson 31),
L Wynne, Ryan Wilson (M Fagerson 71) Reid, Seymour Russell 2 Russell J Payne; L Ludik, D Cave, S McCloskey (S Olding 14, R Lyttle 51), C Piutau; P Jackson, R Pienaar; A Warwick (C Black 61), R Herring (R Best 48), R Ah You (R Kane 55), A O’Connor (P Brown 55), F van der Merwe, I Henderson, S Reidy, Roger Wilson (C Ross 59) P Marshall Cave, penalty try, Jackson Jackson 2 Jackson I Davies (Wales) 7351
Scorers. Tries Cons Pen Ulster Substitute not used Scorers. Tries Cons Referee Attendance Pen
GUMMY GRIN: Gordon Reid smiles after touching down for Glasgow Warriors first try at Scotstoun last night.