Glasgow secure big win over Ulster as Scotland squad members impress in front of watching Gregor Townsend

The impact of four Scotland squad members off the bench was key to Glasgow Warriors extending their unbeaten run in all competitions to 10 matches at rainlashed Scotstoun on Friday night.
Glasgow Warriors' Jack Dempsey celebrates after scoring a second half try during the URC win over Ulster at Scotstoun. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)Glasgow Warriors' Jack Dempsey celebrates after scoring a second half try during the URC win over Ulster at Scotstoun. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Glasgow Warriors' Jack Dempsey celebrates after scoring a second half try during the URC win over Ulster at Scotstoun. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Front-rowers Jamie Bhatti, Fraser Brown and Simon Berghan, along with scrum-half Ali Price, all gave watching national coach Gregor Townsend food for thought as Warriors came from behind to beat their URC play-off rivals 17-11. All three will hope that they did enough to book their place in Scotland’s match-day 23 for next weekend’s trip to Paris.

Warriors No 8 Jack Dempsey also did his cause no harm with a man-of-the-match performance, which included the game’s decisive try; while returning second-row Scott Cummings got through the best part of an hour without looking too rusty (although there is no rush for next weekend given the fine form of Grant Gilchrist and Richie Gray in the Scotland engine-room in recent weeks).

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This victory leaves Franco Smith’s men just one point behind third in the table UIster, and they will travel to South Africa for next Saturday’s re-arranged match versus the Lions full of confidence.

Glasgow laid down an early marker when they won back possession straight from their own kick-off and then kicked a penalty to the corner instead of taking the three easy points on offer. But they couldn’t find their way past Ulster’s well-organised defence on this occasion.

The visitors threatened for the first time in the match when Billy Burns caught Warriors’ defence napping with a clever cross-field kick from a penalty on halfway. However, the bounce of the ball was not kind for Ireland winger Jacob Stockwell, who was unmarked on the left touchline.

Warriors eventually broke the deadlock on 17 minutes when Warriors worked a clever move off a line-out, with Scott Cummings collecting the ball Sione Valianu finishing off. Tom Jordan didn’t manage the touchline conversion, and Ulster responded with an impressive period of power rugby.

Aided by Warriors indiscipline which coughed up a series of penalties, Ulster set up camp on then home try-line. And the dam finally broke just before the half hour make when Harry Sheridan rumbled over from close range.

Ulster continued to dominate during the final 10 minutes of the first half, and Nathan Doak nudged them into a three-point lead just before the break. The scrum-half slotted his long-range penalty after Johnny Matthews was punished by referee Craig Evans for wrapping his arm round Burns’ neck during a maul.

After a cagey start to the second half, Warriors eventually got on top after bringing some international experience off the bench in the shape of Bhatti, Brown, Berghan and Price. And fellow Scotland squad member Dempsey powered over from another clever line-out move to put Warriors back into the lead.

That was the decisive moment in the match, with Warriors taking a strangle-hold of proceedings. The hosts stretched themselves further ahead on 75 minutes when Fraser Brown bustled over following another powerful line-out maul. Duncan Weir nailed the conversion from wide on the left for good measure, before John Cooney slotted a late conversion to salvage that bonus-point for the visitors.

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Townsend will also have taken notice of that because he is understood to be on the verge of calling the Scottish-qualified Irishman into his Six Nations squad.

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