Video: Ulster produce stirring second-half rugby display to defeat Glasgow Warriors... crunch clash against Leinster looms
Guinness PRO14: Glasgow (3) 13 Ulster (7) 19
ULSTER made it 11 PRO14 wins out of 12 last night when they defeated Glasgow Warriors 19-13 but without being able to secure the bonus point they so desperately needed.
The fact Leinster picked up a maximum haul from their win over the Dragons has left them five points better off with the two Irish provinces due to meet at Kingspan Stadium in a fortnight's time.
Dan McFarland's team produced a stirring second-half display, scoring two of their three tries in a purple patch but were unable to add a fourth.
There were signs of ring-rustiness in the early stages -understandable as neither team had played for over a month but the second-half was a different story.
Glasgow made the better start as Ulster made a series of handling errors, the normally reliable Michael Lowry and John Cooney among the guilty parties but the hosts were unable to make their superiority pay dividends in the opening quarter.
There was some respite at the other end of the pitch in the 20th minute when, after Huw Jones dropped a Cooney kick deep into the 22, Ulster made ground from the scrum to threaten for the first time in the match
From a subsequent penalty for a high tackle on Stuart McCloskey, Marcell Coetzee went over from the back of a maul but after a video review, the score was chalked off as the TMO adjudged that the South African had been held up.
The mistakes continued when Lowry dropped a Hastings clearance kick in the 24th minute, with Glasgow awarded the scrum on the half way line which came to nothing as both sides continued to struggle with their set-pieces.
Play was scrappy from both sides and after a great steal by James Hume, the good work was undone when Cooney's pass went straight into touch.
The deadlock was eventually broken in the 36th minute when Hastings knocked over a penalty after Eric O'Sullivan had been pinged for not rolling away.
But Ulster went into the break 7-3 up after Lowry scored a superb try on the stroke of half-time.
The 22-year-old full-back touched down after a terrific offloading move which began in Ulster's own half, culminating in Cooney finding Hume, who passed to Lowry who sprinted in under the posts for Cooney to convert.
Ulster conceded a string of penalties early in the second-half and Hastings closed the gap to a single point when he kicked one over in the 51st minute.
Shortly after having a score ruled out for a knock on, Gilroy made amends in the 56th minute with Ulster's second try after being set up by Cooney and Lowry to make it 12-6.
Nick Timoney moved Ulster to within one try of the bonus-point with 17 minutes left when he went over from a well executed line-out and Cooney added the extras.
But Ulster finished the game with 14 men after substitute scrum-half Alby Mathewson was binned for a deliberate knock on and the hosts capitalised when Aki Seiuli spun over with Ross Thompson nailing the conversion.
Guinness PRO14: Dragons (15) 29 Leinster (14) 35
Leinster stretched their lead at the top of Guinness PRO14 Conference A to five points with a 35-29 win at Dragons.
In the first half a committed Dragons side made life difficult for the reigning champions, but two yellow cards in quick succession swiftly turned the game Leinster's way.
Peter Dooley, Josh Murphy, Scott Penny and Dan Sheehan scored Leinster's tries. There was also a penalty try award, with Ross Byrne adding four conversions.
Sam Davies kicked five penalties and two conversions for Dragons, with replacements Luke Baldwin and Josh Lewis crossing for their tries.
The opening 15 minutes were featureless, with neither side threatening the try-line and it therefore came as no surprise that the first points came via a kick, a well-struck 40-metre penalty from Davies.
Leinster continued to incur the wrath of referee Ben Whitehouse, conceding six penalties in the first quarter with Davies kicking another two in quick succession to give Dragons an early 9-0 advantage.
The Irish province responded with the first try of the game when prop Dooley burst away from a maul 10 metres out to score. Ross Byrne converted before Davies was again on target, this time with a straightforward 20-metre kick.
However, the stronger Leinster pack temporarily took control to move ahead for the first time when flanker Penny forced his way over from close range.
On the half-hour, former Osprey Dan Baker came on to make his Dragons debut as a replacement for Matthew Screech, before Davies kicked his fifth penalty of the half to regain the lead.
With the last move of the first half, Dragons looked to have their first try when Ben Fry finished off a driving line-out, but TMO replays ruled out the score for obstruction by lock Joe Davies.
Six minutes after the restart, Dragons prop Lloyd Fairbrother, playing his 100th PRO14 game for the region, was sin-binned for a no-arms tackle and Leinster immediately capitalised when Murphy forced his way over.
Still down to 14, Dragons suffered a hammer blow when the referee awarded a penalty try for collapsing an unstoppable line-out drive with the culprit Baker sin-binned.
A try from replacement hooker Sheehan took the Irish side out of sight before Baldwin and Lewis scored tries for Dragons, with Davies' conversion giving them a bonus point.
Guinness PRO14: Dragons (15) 29 Leinster (14) 35
Dragons: Tries: Baldwin, Lewis. Cons: S. Davies 2.
Pens: S. Davies 5.
Dragons: J. Williams, Holmes, Owen, Dixon, Hewitt, S. Davies, R. Williams, Harris, Hibbard, Fairbrother, J. Davies, Carter, Screech, Fry, Taylor.
Replacements: Lewis for J. Williams (63), Coleman for Holmes (51), Baldwin for R. Williams (63),Bateman for Harris (50), Shipp for Hibbard (48),
Baker for Screech (30).
Not Used: Maksymiw, Edwards.
Sin Bin: Fairbrother (46), Baker (56).
Leinster: Tries: Dooley, Penny, Murphy, H. Byrne, Sheehan.
Cons: R. Byrne 4.
Leinster: O'Reilly, C. Kelleher, O'Loughlin, R. Byrne, Kearney, H. Byrne, L. McGrath, Dooley, Tracy, Clarkson, Molony, Baird, Murphy, Penny, Conan, G. McGrath.
Replacements: Hawkshaw for H. Byrne (77), Hannan for Dooley (65), Sheehan for Tracy (57), G. McGrath for Clarkson (65), Toner for Molony (57), Fardy for Murphy (67), J. Osborne for G. McGrath (67).
Not Used: R. Osborne.
Ref: Ben Whitehouse (Wales).
Glasgow (3) 13 Ulster (7) 19
Glasgow: Tries: Seiuli. Cons: Thompson. Pens: Hastings 2.
Glasgow: H. Jones, Tagive, Fergusson, Johnson, McLean, Hastings, Dobie, Kebble, Matthews, Pieretto, Gray, Nakarawa, Harley, Gordon, Wilson.
Replacements: Thompson for Hastings (63), Kennedy for Dobie (68), Seiuli for Kebble (60), Stewart for Matthews (41), Rae for Pieretto (71), Ioane for Nakarawa (57), Scott for Wilson (62).
Not Used: O. Smith.
Ulster: Tries: Lowry, Gilroy, Timoney. Cons: Cooney 2.
Ulster: Lowry, Gilroy, Hume, McCloskey, Lyttle, Madigan, Cooney, O'Sullivan, Andrew, M. Moore, A. O'Connor, Treadwell, Timoney, Murphy, Coetzee.
Replacements: Faddes for Gilroy (71), Mathewson for Cooney (68), Warwick for O'Sullivan (50), McBurney for Andrew (50), O'Toole for M. Moore (46), Izuchukwu for Treadwell (57), Jones for Coetzee (41).
Not Used: S. Moore.
Sin Bin: Mathewson (74).
Ref: Ben Blain (Scotland).
P W D L F A Bonus Pts
Leinster 12 11 0 1 431 190 11 55
Ulster 12 11 0 1 354 193 6 50
Ospreys 11 6 0 5 215 217 3 27
Glasgow 11 3 0 8 190 241 4 16
Dragons 11 3 0 8 197 288 3 15
Zebre 11 3 0 8 157 355 1 13