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McFarland encouraged by Ulster's 'glimpses' despite loss in final pre-season tie at Glasgow

Glasgow 36 Ulster 33

Shining light: Matt Faddes has impressed in pre-season
Shining light: Matt Faddes has impressed in pre-season

By Michael Sadlier

It had its good moments and, well, the not so.

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For those who like a certain amount of symmetry, both sides scored five tries, also collected a penalty try each and ended up accumulating the same points total as their first hit-out, namely 69 points from Ulster's 50-19 win at the Kingspan and Saturday's 36-33 result for Glasgow on Scotstoun's artificial surface.

Everything you would expect from a pre-season friendly was here with fast, frenetic and error-ridden rugby along with the usual bench-emptying, though in Ulster's case Will Addison wasn't used after being stood down due to Robbie Henshaw's situation.

Next time both sides play, at the end of next week, it will be for real when Ulster host Ospreys and Glasgow tog out at the Cheetahs, so there was a greater urgency about this encounter than at the Kingspan.

Ulster looked reasonably sharp at times and especially so for their second try when Rob Lyttle's pace and collection of his kick ahead, the space being created by Matt Faddes' pass, was an eye-catching score.

Faddes was again on hand to help assist James Hume's 65th-minute effort while Stuart McCloskey's try, early in the second half, had a nice build-up about it which, once more, involved Faddes and a cut-back from Lyttle.

Ulster's maul was responsible for Rob Herring's opening score and was the driving force behind the 58th-minute penalty try in a second half which saw the lead see-saw between both teams before the Warriors made sure with three minutes to spare.

Though the result was not the crucial issue, this was primarily about performance and, at times, Ulster did look rather ragged.

The sight of Rory Hughes tearing down the left wing and running in pretty much unopposed from just inside Ulster's half - Billy Burns' last-ditch tackle was a hit and hope - won't be good to review even though Jordi Murphy's first club game of the season already had him in the bin.

And conceding three tries from being unable to defend mauls won't make pleasant viewing either but then preventing them from progressing is tricky.

Neither will coughing up an immediate score after being awarded a 58th-minute penalty try but, then again, friendlies are about ironing out the creases.

And there were plenty, especially in a second half with the lead switching about and Ulster not really taking full advantage of Glasgow's pair of yellow cards.

The sight of Nick Timoney leaving with a hand injury wasn't good, neither was Marty Moore not making the starting side.

But new signings Jack McGrath and Bill Johnston made their debuts and McFarland will probably feel not too unhappy ahead of next weekend's PRO14 opener.

"We showed glimpses of what we are capable of and that is encouraging," McFarland said.

"This time it was competitive all the way through and (though) there were quite a lot of mistakes for us and them in the game, they improved as it went on.

"We'll now have a look over the two games and look forward to the Ospreys."

Meanwhile, Ulster 'A' fell to their first Celtic Cup defeat when losing 55-24 to Leinster 'A' in Dublin.

Ulster: M Faddes; C Gilroy, J Hume, S McCloskey, R Lyttle; B Burns, J Cooney; E O'Sullivan, R Herring, R Kane, K Treadwell, S Carter, Matty Rea, S Reidy, N Timoney;

Subs: J Andrew, K McCall, J McGrath, T O'Toole, A O'Connor, J Murphy, G Jones, D Shanahan, B Johnston, J Hume, A Curtis, A Kernohan, M Lowry, W Addison (unused)

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