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Dublin: 9°C Thursday 25 February 2021
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THE RUGBY SEASON begins with a bang tonight as the league semi-finalists and Heineken Cup finalists bid to get the show on the road in style.

Join us for live updates of how this raw Ulster side fare.

As ever, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and tomorrow’s games.

Join in the fun by commenting below, e-mailing Sean@TheScore.ie, tweet @TheScore_ie or get on our Facebook page.

Ulster 18 – 10 Glasgow

Good evening and welcome folks.

You’ve clicked into our humble abode 15 whole minutes before Ulster get the new Pro12 season underway at Ravenhill. Time to grab a pint* or a burger from a van, get a programme and find your seat.

*Please drink responsibly while reading TheScore.ie liveblogs.

Have you all that done already? Have a quick glance at the team news or look through all the details in our Pro12 Cheat Sheet.

Ulster: J Payne; M Allen, C Farrell, L Marshall, C Gilroy; P Jackson, M Heaney: C Black, R Herring, J Afoa; J Muller (capt), L Stevenson; R Diack, S Doyle, N Williams.

Replacements: N Brady, T Court, D Fitzpatrick, N McComb, M McComish, P Marshall, N O’Connor, D Cave.

Glasgow: P Murchie; T Seymour, A Dunbar, G Morrison, S Lamont; D Weir, H Pyrgos: G Reid, F Gillies, M Cusack; T Ryder, A Kellock (Capt.); R Harley, C Fusaro, R Wilson.

Replacements: D Hall, M Low. R Grant, J Eddie, J Barclay. C Cusiter. R Jackson. P Horne.

David Humphreys is speaking to the beeb pre-match and says the young make-up of this side is testament to the strides made in the schools and academy system up north. The teams have just emerged from the tunnel.

No changes from either side named yesterday.

KICK OFF: Duncan Weir gets proceedings underway, Ulster win possession and Luke Marshal clears aimlessly down field allowing Glasgow come back into the attacking third.

Warriors seemed in good control there with Fusaro doing some decent clearing at the breakdown but Pyrgos elected to dink a kick over the ruck inside the 22. An odd choice. Young Michael Allen takes the mark, tonight is his second appearance for the province.

Here comes the first scrum, it’s Ulster’s put-in and the immediate award of a free kick allows Nick Williams to trundle forward into contact. The man just loves to take the hit.

Ulster go through a handful of phases before Muller take it on and becomes isolated. The skipper is penalised for holding on and Ulster are back on their own 10 metre line.

Another good rise and catch from Allen. The wing collected under a bit of pressure on the up and under and after he was joined for a maul, it collapsed and Warriors were pinged for holding onto him on the ground.

In attacking territory, Nick Williams gets ball-in-hand again and forces a penalty as Gillies is spotted going in from the side.

The kick will fall to Niall O’Connor, his 10th minute introduction comes as Paddy Jackson hobbles off injured. Ulster lead 3-0.

After the restart, Michael Heaney shows the nerves of a debutant, dropping a straight-forward kick 35 metres from his own line. Glasgow waste the opportunity, Weir reaching over his head to collect the pass and knocking on.

17 mins: Ulster get a shove on that scrum but ref asked them to use it and Williams hesitated in picking it from between his feet.

Finlay Gillis goes off his feet,the game has been very scrappy so far.

The boys at WOC voice the frustration:

Craig Gilroy, the most experienced member of the back division, took his life in his hands there. Rather than let a kick bounce out to touch, he knocked it back in play with his foot and needed to be at full stretch to keep the on-rushing blue jersey from claiming an easy seven.

21 mins: Ulster 3 – 3 Glasgow

I didn’t catch the guilty party there, but Ulster were penalised for going off their feet just outside the 22. A straightforward leveller for the stocky Glaswegian.

Glasgow look like they should be dominating this game, but it keeps breaking down when it goes through Weir. On this occasion Jared Payne and Craig Gilroy are the most alert and force another penalty for holding on.

The kick brings Ulster to the five-metre line and after three phases they looked ready to grab the first try of the season, but as Williams tried to wrestled the ball through the tackle it spun loose.

Yet again the visitors are deemed guilty of going off their feet after a solid hit by Morrison on Diack. O’Connor should have given Ulster the lead again, but his kick, solidly struck, was rammed against the right-hand upright.

The noise level is suddenly raised in Belfast as Ulster commit to phase after phase with big Nick Williams and John Afoa taking on the hard yards. It’s another kickable penalty and Ali Kellock, not before time, is getting a talking to….

Oh dear.

O’Connor, from an almost identical angle, has taken the same approach, but this time missed the posts and smashed his kick wide right.

Mark Anscombe is starting to ask; can Jared Payne kick? Or does Humphreys have his boots?

The penalties keep on coming in Ulster’s favour. Good thing the line-out’s going well. The hosts are currently mauling their way west.

TRY: Ulster 8 – 3 Glasgow (Allen ‘ 38)

Again Ulster look for Williams as they rumble right, towards the posts. When the warriors appear to quell the immediate danger Heaney does well to read the switch and Payne expertly put the plan into action. His long skip pass finds the debutant in the corner with all of five metres to cover before his first score for the big boys.

HALF TIME: Ulster 8 – 3 Warriors

The game appears to have come too soon for O’Connor and his confidence is now pretty much shot. He has missed three kicks in a row now, the latest was the most difficult of them, but it still amounts to eight points left wanting.

warriors rumbled up the middle of the field in the remaining minute and Weir took aim at a drop-goal from 28 or 29 metres. He dragged it left.

Not the greatest half of rugby and both sides will find plenty to improve on, but the performane of Nick Williams will please Anscombe, he’s been a force of nature.

The sides are out and O’Connor gets the second half underway. Chris Cusiter is ont he field for Glasgow, a necessary change. Pyrgos’ distribution was fairly woeful.

As Ulster pack down for a scrum in attacking territory i’ll bring you news from the night’s other games.

Dragons lead Zebre 34-6 at Rodney Parade, that one started at 7pm. In Italy, Treviso hold a 12-3 lead over the reigning champions, the Ospreys. Will the northerners claim another scalp on home soil?

TRY: Ulster 15 – 3 Warriors (Gilroy ’44)

It’s an intercept for Ulster’s most potent weapon. An awful pass from Weir on the edge of Ulster’s 22, had Gilroy not intercepted it Chris Farrell may well have done.

No mistake from O’Connor from in front of the posts.

So a try from both wings for the home side tonight, good news for both of them when you consider Tommy Bowe and Andrew Trimble have yet to come into this side.

Michael Heaney peels away from the scrum and puts in an inch-perfect kick to force Glasgow onto their own line. Weir does well to clear past his 22 metre line.

Keep your eye on the top of the article, we’ve got a special treat- a pic of big Nick Williams doing his thing – coming up.

Another promising phase of play for Ulster, they get Craig Gilroy flying into space on the left wing. All good things come to an end, however, some with a knock on. But Glasgow engage the scrum early and Ulster now have the ball 30 metres from the line.

There’s Michael Allen again, jumping high to catch a ball he has no right to claim and he stunts another Warriors attack at source.

Changes aplenty at half-back and both sides are stronger for it, Jackson is on in place of Weir for the visitors and Paul Marshall makes his return from an elbow injury in place of the impressive Michael Heaney.

TRY: Ulster 15 – 10 Glasgow (Seymour ’68)

Credit Jackson for finally injecting some invention into this game. The replacement 10 spun the ball wide to the right after his pack had trundled up to half way.

Waiting on the wing was former Ulsterman Tommy Seymour and he showed a superb burst of speed and then a step to wrong-foot Allen. Jackson nailed the conversion and all-of-a-sudden, it’s game on.

Ulster respond in the best possible fashion, their pack pnce more taking on responsibility and keeping the ball tight to force another penalty, this time Muller asks O’Connor to take on the 50 metre plus effort instead of going for the corner. He misses to the right.

You can’t pin the last kick on O’Connor, but it’s difficult not to imagine how the scoreboard would look had P-Jack not been injured. Luckily, the men on the field aren’t wondering the same thing.

Darren Cave makes a decent line-break and McComish offers good support. A cross-kick just evades Allen, Seymour claiming the bobbling ball. Now it’s exciting.

PENALTY: Ulster 18- 10 Warriors (O’Connor ’79)

The visitors are pinged for holding on two metres from the line. In the clutch situation, O’Connor comes good.

Bizarre. It looks like Tom Court thought time was up and sent the ball out of play, but the clock hadn’t yet turned red and so Warriors were allowed take the line-out. A chip-through is charged down and Darren Cave does brilliantly to regain possession with a timely intervention from his toe.

FULL TIME: Ulster 18 – 10 Glasgow

There’ll be no third try for Ulster. The games ends, fittingly, in scrappy fashion, but four points are the commodity Mark Anscombe came looking for and that’s what he has found. Denying Glasgow a bonus point may well prove valuable at the end of the season.

That’s it from me folks. Thanks for coming in and S(tanding)UFTUM on this Friday night marking the return of rugby.

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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