Stuart McCloskey at it again as Ulster and Glasgow serve up URC thriller
ULSTER 35-29 GLASGOW
Given the rejigged nature of the new United Rugby Championship format, this may be the only time we see Ulster vs. Glasgow this season. That, in itself, is a shame.
Stuart McCloskey finally got a decent look at that Ireland jersey, during the summer, and he sent an early signal to Andy Farrell with an all-action performance. Along with Alan O'Connor and sub Nathan Doak, McCloskey was one of Ulster's keys to victory.
Warriors came to Kingspan Stadium and gave Ulster a right scare, but an opportune block-down and try assist from Will Addison ultimately got them over the line.
Ulster went 7-0 up after Cole Forbes' deliberate knock-on gave up a penalty try and earned him 10 minutes in the sin-bin. The scores were level after only five minutes when Sione Tuipulotu fended off Robert Baloucoune and teed up George Horne for a nice try:
Sione Tuipulotu smokes Rob Baloucoune to tee up that Glasgow try! 💥 pic.twitter.com/USv9MRucNK
— House of Rugby (@HouseOfRugby) September 24, 2021
Ulster answered back through Brad Roberts when one of their lineouts finally stuck and they could get their rolling maul humming. John Cooney, with a possible hamstring injury, limped off after 30 minutes with 19-year-old Nathan Doak taking his place.
A Johnny Matthew try put Glasgow 15-14 up at half-time and forced Dan McFarland to make some tactical and personnel changes. On came Mick Kearney, Rob Herring and Eric O'Sullivan. That impetus delivered them a try to get right back in it, through Marty Moore. Doak converted and Ulster led.
Billy Burns was struggling after picking up an early knock, but he still found time for one of his patented dinks through that sat up nicely for Jacob Stockdale. The winger got an offload away and Nick Timoney did the rest.
That gave Ulster the try-scoring bonus point, but the game was not in the bag yet. Certainly not when James Hume conceded the game's second penalty try after he slid in to bundle a Glasgow player over the sideline. Referee Ben Whitehouse deemed him to be playing the man, rather than the ball, and Hume was yellow-carded too. That left it 28-22, to Ulster, with 20 minutes to play.
With the Scots pressing for a converted try to snatch victory, Addison stepped up with that black-down before he pouched the ball and offloaded for Doak to crash over. The young scrumhalf convered and Ulster had a cushion.
They would end up needing it as Jamie Dobie got over after a great Kyle Steyn break up the left wing. Warriors pressed for a late try, but Ulster held him and collected all five points on offer.
McCloskey ended up with some impressive stats to back up his all-round performance - seven carries for 74 metres, two clean breaks, four defenders beaten, and 21 tackles stuck.
Elsewhere on the night, Connacht lost away to Cardiff after conceding late scores while temporarily down to 13 men.
Our Man of the Match: Stuart McCloskey (Ulster)