Ulster suffered their second successive home defeat as mid-table side Glasgow provided a Magners League shock by taking a 24-10 victory away from Ravenhill.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, April 27
ULSTER (0) 10 Glasgow Warriors (10) 24, Ravenhill (Att: 8,056)
Scorers: Ulster: Tries: Andrew Trimble, Andrew Maxwell
Glasgow: Tries: Rory Lamont, John Beattie, John Barclay; Cons: Dan Parks 3; Pen: Dan Parks
Ulster were poor, and coach Mark McCall admitted as much afterwards, with few if any of their players performing anywhere near their ability. Unfortunately, the hosts’ performance also drew boos from the Ravenhill crowd at half-time and full-time, confirming just how alarming Ulster’s dip in form has been.
“We out-Ulstered Ulster with our passion and commitment,” beamed Glasgow coach Sean Lineen afterwards, and right he was.
Having seemingly peaked in October with that sensational 30-3 Heineken Cup win over Toulouse, Ulster’s title hopes have slipped away at a rate of knots.
In front of a 8,065-strong crowd, Ulster seemed determined to erase memories of their embarrassing reversal at home to Munster in their last outing in Belfast, five weeks ago.
But they got off to an inauspiscious start with Paddy Wallace missing a penalty chance, after some notable attacks from 100-cap man Roger Wilson and Ryan Caldwell.
Perhaps summing up the disappointing nature of the night, Ulster then missed out on a try. The line was beckoning Andrew Maxwell but Andrew Trimble narrowly failed to find the supporting Ireland ‘A’ winger with a pass and the chance went a-begging.
A ruck offence from Stephen Ferris allowed Glasgow’s on-form out-half Dan Parks to kick the visitors into a 28th-minute lead, and they moved 10-0 ahead before the break when the ball was shifted wide for winger Rory Lamont to score in injury-time.
Both sides had chances to score tries before then, with Ulster number eight Wilson, who lost possession at a crucial time, and Glasgow centre Andrew Henderson, who failed to capitalise on an overlap, making errors.
Ulster looked to have an avenue back into the tie when the Scots had flanker Steve Swindall sin-binned, early in the second half, for killing the ball but from the subsequent lineout drive, the Ulster pack lost possession as they attempted to maul forward.
However with Swindall still off the pitch, an Ulster try simply had to come and it did when Bowe, Wallace, who showed excellent speed to cut through a gap, and Wilson combined to put Trimble over for his seventh league try in the 51st-minute.
The conversion was missed and despite that score, Ulster’s night continued to go from bad to worse. David Humphreys, on as a replacement for Wallace, had his pass intercepted by John Beattie, 60 metres from the Ulster line, but the Glasgow number eight had enough power and pace to cross the whitewash for Parks to convert and make it 17-5.
With the Ulster scrum under pressure, flanker John Barclay touched down Glasgow’s third try in the 70th-minute, with Parks doing extremely well to swing over the conversion.
A late consolation try arrived for Maxwell, who was sent darting over by Humphreys, but it mattered little in the end as Ulster’s title hopes were disappointingly put to bed by a mid-table side.
Now having succumbed to eight defeats in their last 11 games, Ulster desperately need to end their league campaign on a high with a home win over Edinburgh on Friday, May 11.
ULSTER: Bryn Cunningham; Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Paul Steinmetz, Andrew Maxwell; Paddy Wallace, Isaac Boss; Bryan Young, Rory Best, Simon Best (capt), Justin Harrison, Ryan Caldwell, Stephen Ferris, Neil Best, Roger Wilson.
Replacements used: Tim Barker for Caldwell (44 mins), David Humphreys for Wallace (53), Justin Fitzpatrick for Young (55), Neil McMillan for Ferris, Paul McKenzie for Cunningham (both 65), Kieran Campbell for Boss (73). Not used: Paul Shields.
GLASGOW: Franciso Leonelli Morey; Rory Lamont, Andrew Henderson, Scott Barrow, Thom Evans; Dan Parks, Graeme Beveridge; Justin Va’a, Fergus Thomson, Morey Low, Andy Newman, Alastair Kellock (capt), Steve Swindall, John Barclay, John Beattie.
Replacements used: Kevin Tkachuk for Va’a (22), Hefin O’Hare for Barrow (61), James Eddie for Newman (64), Colin Gregor for Leonelli (70), Andrew Wilson for Swindall (74), Scott Lawson for Thomson, Donnie Macfadyen for Swindall (both 77).
Referee: James Jones (Wales)