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November 15, 2003

Glasgow Warriors 13 - 20 Ulster

Celtic Cup match played at Hughenden on Friday November 14th 2003 | No comments

Glasgow skipper Cammy Mather wished Ulster luck in the Celtic Cup final
It doesn't seem to matter which level of the game you watch in Scotland, the story is depressingly familiar; plenty of possession, some decent approach work, but no points.

Glasgow had by far the better of both possession and territory in the first half of this Celtic Cup semi-final. If they had come away with more than the six points they managed they could, and arguably should, be in the final.

As it was, Ulster were more determined, more canny and more effective. After they had changed their lineout specialist at half-time, when Matt McCullough was injured, they exerted a degree of control you felt was simply beyond Glasgow.

You would not have expected an expansive game of running rugby in the pouring rain which threatened to extinguish the fireworks greeting the Glasgow team on to the pitch. But thatís exactly how it started, perhaps the spur of a cup semi-final putting both sides on their mettle.

First it was Ulster, showing a lovely loop move only to meet with determined tackles out wide from David Millard. Then just as they appeared to be getting the whip-hand their inability to control their own line out allowed Glasgow to break-out .

It was a desperate hack ahead out of their own defence after several Glasgow sorties which allowed Ulster to score first after ten minutes.

Ulster captain Andy Ward followed up bravely, slithered into the mud to gather, and then released centre Ryan Constable on the ten-metre line who beat the last line of defence to score in the right-hand corner.

Nettled by a score which was distinctly against the run of play Glasgow now enjoyed their best period in the match, Morrison and the more mobile forwards looking dangerous. But they flattered to deceive.

A sole penalty after 25 minutes from Daniel Parks was scant reward, especially when it was cancelled by another from Ulsterís Adam Larkin a couple of minutes later.

At least Glasgow were not making the basic errors which have undone them in recent weeks. But the Ulster defence was solid and no-one seemed to have the key to unlock it.

It was no surprise when, with the try-line still some way off, Parks accepted a drop goal opportunity to close the gap to 6-8 and thatís how it stayed for the remaining five minutes of the first half.

Ulster started the second half purposefully, replacement scrum-half Neil Doak picking up from the based of the scrum and chipping ahead and then taking a quick tap penalty.

Pinder raised the siege from the lineout temporarily but Ulster ran it back, Glasgow got themselves offside and Larkin converted the simple penalty.

Worse was to follow when big Andy Hall got himself sin-binned after ten minutes for illegal use of the hands in the ruck. Ulster nearly capitalised on the extra man by pushing over from the resultant penalty but several attempts were repulsed.

When they finally span it wide Morrison gathered in a vital knock on in midfield. But Ulster again used their man advantage to wheel the scrum and win their won put in and only a dropped ball by Ward on the line saved a certain score.

It was the closest Ulster came to scoring what one sense might have been a vital score while they had the chance, Larkin missing a long range penalty before Hall reappeared.

As so often happens, when he did, Ulster were nearly through again, only a desperate tackle by Lamont keeping out Bryn Cunningham in the corner.

Gradually inched their way back upfield, a process made harder by the abrupt disintegration of their own lineout just as Ulster seemed to have pulled theirs together.

But Ulster were not about to surrender their narrow lead and absorbed such pressure as Glasgow could exert without having to let them into their 22.

Strong clearance kicks and poor discipline from Glasgow, who were beginning to look ragged, gave Larkin another penalty opportunity with under ten minutes to go.

He converted and then added a drop goal a couple of minutes later putting Ulster apparently out of sight with less than five minutes left. But it was not over yet. From the kick-off Pinder picked up on a loose ball and nearly made it to the line.

It took several phases and a neat jink inside from Morrison finally to get over.

Howarth, who had replaced Parks, made the conversion but there was still time for Ulster not to just to hold off last minute frenzied attacked form Glasgow but to get upfield and finish it once and for all as Glasgowís desperation to get their hands on the ball in the ruck gave away a final simple penalty.

Report by Robert Scott from The Scotsman.

Referee H Watkins (WAL)
Attendance 4,128
Man of the Match Cammy Mather
Euan Murray
Scott Lawson
Lee Harrison
Andy Hall
Nathan Ross
Cammy Mather
Donnie Macfadyen
Paul Dearlove
Sam Pinder
Dan Parks
Dave Millard
Graeme Morrison
Gareth Maclure
Sean Lamont
Rory Kerr
Andrew Kelly
Mark McMillan
Roly Reid
Simon Gunn
Jonathan Steel
Calvin Howarth
Joe Beardshaw
Match Substitutions
Off On
Matt Proudfoot Andrew Kelly
Off On
Dave Millard Jonathan Steel
Off On
Andy Hall Joe Beardshaw
Off On
Dan Parks Calvin Howarth
Dan Parks Penalty
Dan Parks Drop
Graeme Morrison Try 
Calvin Howarth Conversion

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