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Ulster coach rubbishes du Toit rumours as Ireland returnees set to feature in Glasgow

Ulster 50 Glasgow 19

Big impact: Craig Gilroy is closed down by Ratu Tagive
Big impact: Craig Gilroy is closed down by Ratu Tagive

By Michael Sadlier

Not a bad afternoon's work really.

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The first tog out of the season and Ulster hit 50 points, scored eight tries, managed 43 unanswered points from the 35th minute onwards with 33 of that total being accumulated in a spectacularly one-sided second half.

Throw into the mix Craig Gilroy's first game time in just under a year, he even bagged two tries, the debuts of new signings Matt Faddes, Sam Carter - the latter also scoring - and Dave O'Connor as well as tries on their first appearances for youngsters Graham Curtis and Ethan McIlroy.

Throw in that there were three sets of brothers in the expanded Ulster squad, the O'Connor, Rea and Curtis clans all being represented, and the feel-good factor was right up there even though Ireland were seeing off Wales to go top of the world in Rory Best's last game on home soil.

And that's not all as Ulster get to have another pop at Glasgow on Saturday when they complete their two-game friendly series against a World Cup diluted Warriors squad intent on doing better at Scotstoun.

By then, Ulster coach Dan McFarland will likely have trimmed his squad from the 29 involved on Saturday to a more manageable number which will probably reflect those in the frame to play the first PRO14 game when Ulster host the Ospreys on the last Friday of the month.

He ought to also be able to deploy the most recent Ireland camp returnees with Rob Herring, Will Addison, Jordi Murphy and new signing Jack McGrath potentially all ready to tog out.

"There's a good chance we'll use those guys for a bit of game-time," McFarland admitted.

"It's really disappointing on an individual level for those guys (to have not made the World Cup) but ultimately we've got to put ourselves in a position where we can help those guys, as a team, to put their names forward.

"I've spoken to them and they're desperate to get playing."

There were some notable absentees from Ulster's expanded squad with props Marty Moore and Andy Warwick not involved while Stuart McCloskey, Louis Ludik, Robert Baloucoune and Aaron Sexton were also not available.

Whether they will be in a position to play this Saturday remains to be seen - McFarland did allude to Baloucoune not being ready - but one area the Ulster coach did attempt to shut down was speculation regarding the rumoured short-term signing of Sharks prop Thomas du Toit.

"It's not true," he said.

"We've got some good tight-head props here.

"With Gareth (Milasinovich) out for most of the season, we only have three specialist tight-head props so there is a potential situation where we would need to bring somebody in.

"Marty (Moore) is an experienced player, Ross (Kane) and Tom (O'Toole) are relatively inexperienced but we like them and these are guys for the future so we're not going to bring someone at Thomas du Toit's level just at the moment."

As for the game, McFarland pretty much called it as it was though he did namecheck Curtis and McIlroy for their respective efforts.

"We're not going to read too much into it in terms of where we are as a team but it was great to get lots of people game time.

"There were a lot of young fellas out there so it was really good to see those guys playing.

"Defensively we took a bit of time to get into the game but after that it we put a lot of points on the board. From an outcome point of view it's really difficult to measure anything.

"They swapped their whole team around so they have a lot of guys who have effectively only played club rugby until this point (and) measuring where we're at as a team is difficult because of that context."

Gilroy reminded us of his finishing prowess with his two tries and even though Greg Jones also got over, Ulster trailed 19-17 after a scrappy enough first half.

But Jones' effort and Gilroy's second began the 43-point roll. The second half, with much alteration to both sides - John Cooney making an impact - saw Angus Kernohan, McIlroy, Carter, Nick Timoney, and Graham Curtis all dot down.

ULSTER: M Lowry; C Gilroy, M Faddes, J Hume, A Kernohan; B Burns (capt), J Stewart; K McCall, A McBurney, R Kane, A O'Connor, D O'Connor, C Ross, Marcus Rea, G Jones;

Replacements (all used): J Andrew, E O'Sullivan, T O'Toole, S Carter, K Treadwell, Matty Rea, S Reidy, N Timoney, D Shanahan, J Cooney, A Curtis, L Marshall, G Curtis, E McIlroy

GLASGOW WARRIORS: G Bryce, R Nairn, N Grigg, R Fergusson, R Tagive, B Thomson, S Kennedy; O Keble, J Matthews, A Nicol, T Swinson (capt) K McDonald, M Smith, T Gordon, A Ashe

Replacements: (all used) P O'Toole, A Allan, D Rae, G Thornton, R Harley, L Morrice, C Henderson, M Sykes, C Fusaro, N Frisby, J Dobie, R Thomspon, P Kelly, A Coombes, K Rowe, M McFarland, O Smith

Referee: R O'Sullivan

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