It took Pienaar all of 90 seconds to make an impression in his new home, trying his luck with a penalty attempt from well inside the Ulster half. The ambitious long-distance kick missed by only the narrowest of margins, but the Springbok scrum-half had already earned his first Ravenhill round of applause for the sheer audacity of his effort.
Duncan Weir gave Glasgow the lead on nine minutes with a penalty of his own, this one from a considerably more realistic distance clear of the Ulster 10-metre line. Worst still followed for Ulster 10 minutes later when a Glasgow clearance kick, again from Weir, popped out of Andrew Trimble's grasp and into the grateful hands of Daniel Van Der Merwe. The Canadian wing had the pace to make it to the line unopposed and, although the conversion missed, the Scots had a healthy lead at Ulster 0 Glasgow 8.
Pienaar atoned for his earlier miss on 15 minutes with a penalty which he clipped in off the left upright, and with the Scots penalised again three minutes later for coming in from the side, Ulster varied their approach with O'Connor kicking for touch. Despite good pressure from the line-out, Glasgow kept the Ulstermen at bay and, with the Scots soon penalised for offside, Pienaar struck again to shorten the gap at Ulster 6 Glasgow 8.
Ulster had the wind in their sails, and the Ruan Pienaar show continued on 25 minutes when the impressive Springbok picked up from a forceful Ulster drive and showed quick feet - and even quicker hands - to weave his way into the corner for his first try in the white and red jersey. The debutant converted his own score to propel his new team into the lead at Ulster 13 Glasgow 8, although Weir rapidly clawed three points back with a penalty after an errant drop goal attempt.
Pienaar almost broke through again five minutes before the break when his quickfire dummy on the Warriors' 22 fooled some - but not all - members of the Glaswegian rearguard, but the last minutes of the half were played out in the Ulster half, where Weir eventually added his third penalty of the evening to put his side one point up at the break.
Half-Time Score Ulster 13 Glasgow 14
Ulster started the second period with good possession and won a 43rd-minute penalty which Pienaar slotted home, with a little help from the crossbar, to redress the balance in their favour. Weir then emulated Pienaar's long-range attempt from the first period, putting over an exemplary kick from deep in his own half and edging his team back into the lead at Ulster 16 Glasgow 17.
With 25 minutes remaining, it was time for one side or the other to stamp its authority on the tie, which Ulster endeavoured to do with a Trimble raid down the right wing. After kicking on, the speedy winger appeared to be intentionally blocked and bundled out of play by Richie Vernon. Referee Stefano Penne, after consulting his touch-judge, declined to show Vernon a card, but duly awarded the penalty, which Ulster's new No. 9 steered agonisingly wide from the Glasgow 22.
On 65 minutes Weir attempted another extravagant penalty - this time from behind his own 10-metre line - but he too drove marginally off-target, much to the relief of the Ravenhill faithful. Ulster continued to chase the game and eventually earned a 70th-minute penalty which they elected to put into the corner.
The resulting line-out was won, but despite the Ulster forwards' best efforts, their pummelling drives were resisted time and again by the dogged Glasgow defence. Pragmatism was the order of the day when, after several blighted Ulster attempts to push over for the try, Glasgow infringed once more and Pienaar was on hand to kick his team back into the lead at Ulster 19 Glasgow 17.
Victory could have been confirmed two minutes from time with a final penalty, but Pienaar's kick from inside the 22 thudded off the upright and out of play. Glasgow were unable to win back the ball from the restart however, and the clock wound down to zero with Ulster camped in Warriors territory.
Full-Time Score Ulster 19 Glasgow 17
(15 - 9) J Smith, A Trimble, D Cave, P Wallace, S Danielli, N O'Connor, R Pienaar
(1 - 8) B Young, R Best (c), T Court, J Muller, D Tuohy, P Wannenburg, C Henry, R Diack
Replacements (16 - 23) N Brady, P McAllister, A Whitten, T Barker, W Faloon, P Marshall, I Whitten, D McIlwaine
(15 - 9) B Stortoni, DTH Van Der Merwe, M Evans, G Morrison, F Aramburu, D Weir, C Gregor
(1 - 8) J Welsh, F Thomson, M Low, T Ryder, R Gray, R Harley, J Barclay (c), R Vernon
Replacements (16 - 23) P MacArthur, R Grant, E Kalman, A Muldowney, C Forrester, H Pyrgos, R Jackson, R Dewey
|Ulster Rugby Score Card|
|Glasgow Warriors Score Card|
|DTH van der Merwe||1||5|