Glasgow started brightly, enjoying four minutes of virtually uninterrupted possession until a knock-on on halfway gave Ulster their first meaningful touch. Behemoth Number Eight Williams knocked several Warriors aside like skittles as he pounded forward, but the Scots quickly drew the penalty as Ulster got bogged down on the '22', and the danger was averted.
With Jackson succumbing to a knock on nine minutes, Niall O'Connor took the field, with his first action to slot over a penalty from the 10-metre line after a Glasgow offside. Warriors then seized back the initiative, however, and their labours were rewarded on 20 minutes when Duncan Weir struck home an elementary penalty from in front of the posts to level it at Ulster 3 Glasgow 3.
Accurate tactical kicking from O'Connor three minutes later earned Ulster a line-out deep in Glaswegian territory, and the first try of the season was only prevented by some desperate defending by the Scots on their own line. Ulster came again, though, with some notably excellent short passing between Williams and Doyle, and when Glasgow infringed on the '22', O'Connor was unlucky to see his kick rebound back into play off the upright.
Astute long-range passing from Marshall, pinpointing Robbie Diack from a good 15 metres, launched the next Ulster assault almost instantly, and with the Scots again transgressing, referee Marius Mitrea gave O'Connor the opportunity to atone for his earlier miss. The out-half, recently returned to Ravenhill after a year at Connacht, pulled this one just wide, however, much to his own frustration.
Ulster played out the half camped deep in Glasgow territory, retaining the ball well but making little progress until a flash of inspiration from Payne, who looped a pass over several Scotttish heads and into the grasp of Allen, stationed on the left touchline. The young winger thrust over the line to give Ulster the lead, and while O'Connor's acutely-angled conversion missed the target, the hosts were good value for their five-point advantage at the break.
Half-Time Score Ulster 8 Glasgow 3
The second period opened with Glasgow replacement Chris Cusiter threatening to take on the entire Ulster defence single-handedly as he weaved through five or six bodies, but once he had been stopped and the Warriors forced back, Gilroy alertly latched onto a careless pass from the Scots on the Ulster '22', and punished the lapse substantially. The quicksilver winger set off like Usain Bolt out of the blocks, leaving all chasers in his wake on halfway, with his pace affording him the time to target his run directly for the posts. The central grounding of the try gave O'Connor the easiest of tasks with his conversion, which raised the score to Ulster 15 Glasgow 3.
Glasgow toiled to claw their way back into the match - and saw their own penalty bounce off the woodwork just after the hour - before former Ulsterman Tommy Seymour got over the line on 68 minutes. Ruaridh Jackson converted to shrink the Ulster lead to five points, and O'Connor's third penalty miss of the evening four minutes later meant the gap remained too close for Ulster's liking.
But a breakaway led by replacement Darren Cave moments later put the Ulstermen back in the danger zone, and, although Glasgow did well to slow down play as it neared their line, an eventual infringement allowed O'Connor to put the result beyond doubt at Ulster 18 Glasgow 10 with two minutes remaining.
The visitors pushed for a late consolation, but it was Ulster who came closer to registering further points at the death, when replacement scrum-half Paul Marshall charged down a Cusiter attempt at a drop goal, and his dynamic backline colleagues chased on before a final knock-on close to the Scots' line ended the contest.
Full-Time Score Ulster 18 Glasgow 10
(15 - 9) J Payne; C Gilroy, C Farrell, L Marshall, M Allen; P Jackson, M Heaney
(1 - 8) C Black, R Herring, J Afoa, J Muller (c), L Stevenson, R Diack, S Doyle, N Williams
Replacements (16 - 23) N Brady, T Court, D Fitzpatrick, N McComb, M McComish, P Marshall, N O'Connor, D Cave
(15 - 9) P Murchie; T Seymour, A Dunbar, G Morrison, S Lamont; D Weir, H Pyrgos
(1 - 8) G Reid, F Gillies, M Cusack, T Ryder, A Kellock (c), R Harley, C Fusaro, R Wilson
Replacements (16 - 23) D Hall, M Low, R Grant, J Eddie, J Barclay, C Cusiter, R Jackson, P Horne
|Ulster Rugby Score Card|
|Glasgow Warriors Score Card|