An Ulster first blasts Kiss' men to top
Three tries see the province end their barren run in Glasgow and continue best PRO12 start since 2012
A first ever PRO12 victory at Scotstoun was enough to take Ulster top of table as the side ground out a 22-17 triumph in the Glasgow rain last night to continue their winning start to the season.
Les Kiss's men were wholly good value for the result after a Darren Cave score and penalty try put them in the driving seat, and Paddy Jackson touched down in the second-half to quell the host's attempted comeback.
While it has been the end-game of their contests in Scotstoun that have so often been Ulster's undoing, they again made an encouraging start on a ground that has been so unwelcoming in the past. Early pressure yielded a breakdown penalty, although Jackson's kicking stroke was uncharacteristically off.
The out-half, man-of-the match on his return to the side last week, took precious little time to make amends however, banging over a long distance effort when Glasgow infringed on the deck for a second time in the opening minutes.
A good start seemed set to get even better before even 10 minutes had elapsed when a delightfully incisive move produced an opening for Jared Payne, as always running a brilliant line, to swiftly advance across the whitewash. Ian Davies called for the TMO, however, and, after a second look at an illegal clear out by Iain Henderson, the score was chalked off with the visitor's flanker sent for a 10 minute spell in the sin bin.
While there could be no real complaints on that decision, the referee's more curious moments were still to come. Firstly, Ulster did manage the game's first try when, after one of a number of strong breaks from Charles Piutau created space, the visitors had plenty of numbers out wide and moved the ball through the hands well. Ultimately, it was left to Darren Cave (below), making his first start since losing his mother last month, to slide over the line.
Ulster failed to deal with the restart and, when Glasgow flooded the breakdown, they were soon over the line via a stretch from Gordon Reid.
Ulster's maul has yielded a score in each game this season and the pack thought they were in again when skipper Rob Herring was dragged across the line by Rodney Ah You. Davies though, in consultation with his TMO, adjudged that the prop prevented Henry Pyrgos making a tackle on the scorer. Before Les Kiss and his men could become overly indignant, Piutau attacked in the corner only to be halted by a no arms tackle from Leonardo Sarto. Despite Glasgow's assertion that there was cover coming across, Davies awarded a penalty try and gave the Italian wing a yellow card.
After the turn, matters were certainly less controversial and, as conditions meant a slippery ball, defences were to become paramount. Ulster found the necessary answers but not without a scare.
A penalty from Finn Russell, thankfully back after a concussion sustained last season, reduced the arrears before Ulster Academy product Tommy Seymour again returned to haunt his old side with a score that gave Gregor Townsend's men a first lead.
After seeing Glasgow fight back on this ground so many times, it seemed a case of deja vu all over again but Ulster were able to match them punch for punch.
Jackson finished off a fine move involving Pienaar, Cave and Ludik and plenty of determined defensive work in the final quarter saw his side to the memorable win. Cardiff will likely knock them off the summit this afternoon after taking on Zebre but Ulster will feel last night's performance was that of a squad in the title race for the long haul.
Glasgow Warriors: S Hogg, L Sarto, M Bennett, A Dunbar, T Seymour, F Russell, H Pyrgos (co-capt); G Reid,F Brown, Z Fagerson; G Peterson, J Gray (co-capt); T Uanivi, L Wynne, R Wilson.
Replacements: C Flynn (for Peterson 22), A Allan (for Reid, 29), S Puafisi (for Fagerson, 50), S Thomson (for Uanivi 31), M Fagerson (for Wilson, 70), A Price (for Pyrgos, 71), N Grigg (for Hughes, 75) , R Hughes (for Dunbar, 55)
Ulster: J Payne, L Ludik, D Cave, S McCloskey, C Piutau; P Jackson, R Pienaar; A Warwick, R Herring (c), R Ah You, A O'Connor, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, S Reidy, R Wilson.
Replacements: R Best (for Herring, 47), C Black (for Warwick, 60), R Kane (for Ah You, 54), P Browne (for O'Connor, 54), C Ross (for Wilson, 58), P Marshall, S Olding (for McCloskey, 13), R Lyttle (for Olding, 50)
Referee: Ian Davies
Man of the match: Louis Ludik
Match Rating: 8/10