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Dublin: 8°C Wednesday 24 February 2021


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Good evening and welcome along to our live coverage of the first of this year’s Guinness Pro14 semi-finals, as Glasgow Warriors — the winners of Conference A — host Ulster at Scotstoun.

Dan McFarland’s side, having finished second in their conference before overcoming Connacht in the quarter-final, are bidding to reach their first Pro14 final in six years, while it’s now 13 years since the northern province last lifted silverware.

It has been a hugely progressive first season for Ulster under McFarland, but they face a stiff challenge tonight in the form of Dave Rennie’s Warriors, who are looking to book their place at next Saturday’s final down the road at Celtic Park.

Kick-off is coming up at 7.35pm and we’ll have all the build-up between now and then right here. 

The scene is set at a sunny Scotstoun. It’s a beautiful Friday evening for rugby in the Scottish city. 

A view of Guinness PRO14 match balls ahead of the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

A view of Scotstoun ahead of the game

A view of the Ulster jersey ahead of the game

A view of the Glasgow dressing room ahead of the game

TEAM NEWS: Glasgow have named DTH van der Merwe in their starting XV after the Canadian winger returned from a shoulder injury four weeks ahead of schedule, while captain Callum Gibbins is also back after his own lay-off.

Stuart Hogg will play his final game at Scostoun before joining Exeter Chiefs next season, while Adam Hastings — named Pro14 Young Player of the Season — continues his half-back pairing with Ali Price.

Rennie’s side is stacked with international pedigree and exciting talent, with the Warriors boasting a formidable Pro14 home record having lost just once here — to Edinburgh back in December — this season.

Glasgow Warriors:

15. Stuart Hogg
14. Tommy Seymour
13. Kyle Steyn
12. Sam Johnson
11. DTH van der Merwe
10. Adam Hastings
9. Ali Price

1. Jamie Bhatti
2. Fraser Brown
3. Zander Fagerson
4. Scott Cummings
5. Jonny Gray
6. Rob Harley
7. Callum Gibbins (captain)
8. Matt Fagerson.


16. Grant Stewart
17. Oli Kebble
18. D’Arcy Rae
19. Ryan Wilson
20. Tom Gordon
21. George Horne
22. Pete Horne
23. Huw Jones.

TEAM NEWS: Ulster have been forced into a late change to their starting XV as Robert Baloucoune has withdrawn, with Michael Lowry promoted off the bench.

The change means there’s a reshuffle in the province’s back three, with Lowry named to start at fullback and Jacob Stockdale and Louis Ludik operating on either wing.

After a hamstring injury, the return of Stockdale is a massive boost for the visitors, who are playing in their first Pro14 semi-final since 2016.


15. Mike Lowry
14. Louis Ludik
13. Luke Marshall
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Billy Burns
9. John Cooney

1. Eric O’Sullivan
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Ross Kane
4. Iain Henderson
5. Kieran Treadwell
6. Nick Timoney
7. Jordi Murphy
8. Marcell Coetzee.


16. Rob Herring
17. Andrew Warwick
18. Tom O’Toole
19. Alan O’Connor
20. Sean Reidy
21. David Shanahan
22. Darren Cave
23. Angus Kernohan.

This is Glasgow’s seventh Pro14 semi-final in the last eight years, but they have only reached two finals, in 2014 and 2015, and last year were stunned by Scarlets at this stage of the competition.

While Ulster have won just once at this venue, a 22-17 win in September 2016, the province arrive in Scotland full of confidence having suffered just one defeat since April, a round 13 loss to Glasgow here. 

But which way do you see this one going?

Poll Results:

Glasgow (131)
Ulster (78)

Ahead of tonight’s game, we caught up with Ulster centre Luke Marshall who has battled back from a serious knee injury to boost McFarland’s side for the business end of the season. 

“You always find yourself, just whenever you have a bit of free time, thinking about what it would be like to lift a trophy over in Celtic Park. You’ve got to, that’s the motivation at the end of the day.

We’re not thinking past the semi-final but you have to imagine how good it would be. It’s so long since we’ve won a trophy here, and it’s even been a while since we’ve been in a position to be close to it.

“It would be incredible but there’s a tough game coming on Friday and even if we win that there’s a tough opponent waiting in the final so we’re a ways away.”

You can read the full interview here

Tonight’s game is live on eir Sport 1 and Premier Sports, while there is full radio commentary on RTÉ 2fm with Michael Corcoran. If you’re not near a TV or radio, stick with us for all the action as it happens.

Dan McFarland has been speaking to Premier Sports before the game.

Dan McFarland speaks to the media ahead of the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

We’re going to have to be better than last time we were here. It’s a highly-competitive situation and we’re desperate to win.

Just 15 minutes until kick-off at Scotstoun. How are the nerves, Ulster fans?

The teams are out at a sold-out Scotstoun! There’s quite a stiff breeze blowing from one end of the ground to the other, but with a dry ball and fast track, we’re hoping for a thrilling semi-final clash between these two.


KICK OFF! Billy Burns gets us underway at Scotstoun. Ulster are playing into the wind in this first half. 


1 mins – That’s not the start Ulster wanted, as they’re forced to scramble defensively from the off. It all comes from Kyle Steyn’s blistering line-break and Glasgow are into the red zone inside the opening 60 seconds. 


4 mins – A nightmare start for Dan McFarland’s side, who had barely touched the ball before finding themselves under their own sticks. Glasgow, on the other hand, are right on it from the off here. 


6 mins – They may not have played for a couple of weeks, but Glasgow are humming. Their big ball-carriers are getting over the gainline and Ali Price is providing quick and quality service. Testing times for Ulster, who need to weather this early storm. 


8 mins – Ulster aren’t helping themselves either. A lineout on this near side gives the province a chance to get a solid footing but it’s knocked-on by an Ulster hand and here come Glasgow again…


9 mins – Glasgow are so, so patient through the phases and are happy to keep it tight around the fringes, allowing their forwards punch holes in this Ulster defence. Ludik does well to read a pass left but then stupidly throws an offload out of the tackle that hands possession back to the hosts. We’re coming back for an Ulster scrum, thankfully. 


10 mins – We’re 10 minutes into this semi-final and Ulster have had 9% possession, but that’s a fillip for the province as they win a scrum penalty inside their own 22. A chance for Burns to find touch down this near side. 


Stockdale battles for possession with Stuart Hogg.

Stuart Hogg and Jacob Stockdale Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO


13 mins – First opportunity for Ulster to build some phases of their own but they’re not going anywhere, with Glasgow aggressively off the line to close the space down. After a scrappy passage, we’ll have an Ulster scrum on the far side but they’re under pressure from the home side. 


15 mins – This is much better from Ulster as they seem to have eventually settled into the contest but just as they were building momentum, Rob Harley comes up trumps with a big turnover in midfield. Hastings finds a good touch down this near side and Glasgow have an excellent position to launch their potent maul. 


22 mins – Ulster have a chance to get themselves back in the game as Burns boots a penalty deep into Glasgow territory, with Best finding his man at the lineout. They have a penalty advantage coming too, but they’re just yards from the line. 


22 mins – Ulster need to be clinical here but Glasgow’s defensive effort is huge and they force the white shirts away from the line, before we come back for the penalty. Best has a decision here and he opts against taking the points. Burns kicks for the corner…


24 mins – And the lineout goes awry. That’s so, so poor from Ulster after turning down the three points. Glasgow kick it clear and then they win the turnover penalty on halfway. 


25 mins – Glasgow have brought so much physicality and intensity to the contest so far and they’re dominating the contact zone, with McCloskey left isolated on the ground on that occasion. 


26 mins – Although Glasgow have been at their brilliant best inside the opening 26 minutes, this has been an incredibly frustrating performance from Ulster so far. They need to find a spark but can’t afford to fall further behind this Warriors side. 


28 mins — Penalty! Glasgow 17-0 Ulster (Hastings)

And that’s exactly what Ulster do, as they fall 17 points behind. After a number of scrum resets, Eric O’Sullivan is penalised by John Lacey and Hastings makes no mistake from the tee. Game over already?


29 mins – The Glasgow supporters aren’t happy as Lacey pings the hosts for blocking from the kick-off as Hogg gathered and now John Cooney calls for the tee. A chance to get Ulster on the board.


30 mins — Penalty! Glasgow 17-3 Ulster (Cooney)

Glasgow are penalised for obstruction and Cooney opens Ulster’s account for the evening. It’s a long way back but that’s a start. 


32 mins – Eric O’Sullivan took a bang there and is being forced off for an HIA, with Andy Warwick on in his place. 


33 mins – That just about sums up Ulster. They get some go-forward ball through McCloskey but then Burns’ up-and-under is poorly-executed into the wind and it sails backwards, with Ludik unable to salvage the situation as the ball goes out off the Ulster winger’s hand. 


34 mins – And here come Glasgow through Hogg and van der Merwe down the left…


35 mins – Ulster do well to close the door but we’re coming back for a penalty as Lacey pings the tackler for not rolling away. Hogg, playing in his last match at Scotstoun, kicks for the corner. 


36 mins — Ulster are clinging on here and they give away another penalty underneath their own posts. The hosts have called for the scrum. 


37 mins – Five metres out, dead centre. This is prime attacking position for Glasgow on the stroke of half-time. 


40 mins – A woeful first-half showing from Ulster in such a big game, with Glasgow utterly dominant at Scotstoun. 

Half-time! Glasgow 24-3 Ulster 

Ulster are staring down the barrel at Scotstoun after conceding three first-half tries and it’s a long, long way back for Dan McFarland’s side. Glasgow, to their credit, have been superb and earned their just reward through Seymour, Price and Harley. Hastings, having kicked nine points off the tee, has been outstanding. 


What did you make of that first half Ulster fans? It hasn’t been pleasant viewing from an Irish perspective.

Ali Price and Kyle Steyn celebrate winning a penalty Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Rory Best dejected after Ali Price scored their second try

Michael Lowry and Stuart McCloskey tackle Tommy Seymour


KICK OFF! A nightmare first half from Ulster — can they produce a monumental comeback or is it a damage limitation exercise now? We’re back underway at Scotstoun. 


43 mins – Eric O’Sullivan passed his HIA, by the way, and is back out there at the start of the second half. 


46 mins – Ulster sort their lineout issues out as Best finds Timoney and from there, Stockdale is fed a flat ball from Burns in midfield. The visitors are into the 12th phase now and have made good ground into the Glasgow 22. They need a seven-pointer here. 


47 mins – There’s no way through the Glasgow wall but Lacey brings it back for an Ulster penalty after Ross Kane was taken out off the ball by Cummings. And interestingly, McFarland has replaced John Cooney with Dave Shanahan. Not sure if the scrum-half was carrying a knock. 


48 mins – More frustration. Ulster called for the scrum and after earning a solid set-piece platform, Stockdale knocks on in contact close to the line. Timoney has been replaced by Sean Reidy now too. 


50 mins – And there are huge roars of delight from the hosts as Glasgow win the scrum penalty, with Hastings easing the pressure on their line by lauching it downfield.


Hastings has been very influential for Glasgow tonight.

Adam Hastings and Andy Warwick Source: James Crombie/INPHO


51 mins – Andy Warwick and Tom O’Toole are on into the Ulster front row. 


53 mins – McFarland continues to unload his bench with Alan O’Connor replacing Treadwell. 


54 mins – There is absolutely no let-up in intensity from Glasgow as they continue to put Ulster under all sorts of pressure, with Stockdale enduring a bit of a nightmare out there. The hosts are probing for their fourth try. 


56 mins – This is pretty grim for Ulster now as an encouraging first season under McFarland is coming to a humbling end. There are still 23 minutes left too. 


60 mins – Darren Cave is on for the final game of a remarkable career. He moves level with Andrew Trimble in the all-time appearance list for Ulster on 229 caps. 


62 mins – A brilliant reception for Rory Best from the Scotstoun crowd as he trudges off to bring the curtain down on his incredible Ulster career. A shame it has to end in these circumstances, but what a servant the hooker has been for his province. 

Flag 71Mins

71 mins — TRY! Glasgow 43-15 Ulster (Herring)

Ulster pull another one back, this time Herring finishing off from the back of a lineout maul for his eighth Pro14 try of the season. 


75 mins — TRY! Glasgow 50-15 Ulster (Horne)

Seventh heaven for Glasgow, and they break the 50-point mark. Another sweeping move as Ulster are ruthlessly cut apart, with George Horne on hand to run it under the sticks. 


79 mins — TRY! Glasgow 50-20 Ulster (Lowry)

A nice move from Ulster yields their third try as Reidy is released down the right and Lowry does brilliantly to finish. 


A sad way for Rory Best to bow out in an Ulster jersey, while that’s the final time we’ll see Darren Cave out there too. The province never fired a shot and the game was over as a contest as early as the first half, as Dave Rennie’s side dominated from start to finish.

They scored seven tries during a rampant display at a sold-out Scotstoun and have booked their place in next weekend’s decider, where they will face either Leinster or Munster.


Thanks for joining us this evening, we’ll have a full match report from Scotstoun shortly, but until tomorrow afternoon at the RDS, goodbye!

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Ryan Bailey


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