Ulster heartbroken as late Glasgow try ends final hopes
Glasgow Warriors 16 Ulster 14
Glasgow Warriors will contest the final of the Guinness Pro12 at Kingspan next weekend after pulling off a sensational win over Ulster at Scotstoun with a late try by DTH Van der Merwe and a touchline conversion by Finn Russell.
Ulster looked to be on course for victory after dominating the breakdowns and the scrum but in the end it was inspired play by the home side that won the match
Penalties by Stuart Hogg and Russell to one by Ruan Pienaar (above) gave Glasgow an early 6-3 lead.
The visitors claimed the first try of the game when the ball was moved wide to Chris Henry after clever one-pass play for the openside to cross unopposed, Pienaar's conversion attempt drifting wide
Glasgow then had a good attacking position from a penalty to the corner but an overthrow by replacement hooker Pat MacArthur wasted a precious opportunity.
At the other end Ulster, profiting from a tighthead strike, were held up over the line but at the ensuing scrum Irish referee George Clancy penalised the visitors' pack leaving them frustrated but still with a two-point interval lead.
Ulster looked threatening early in the second half when they moved turnover ball but a wide pass almost gave Niko Matawalu an interception.
The visitors, however, were rewarded for their pressure play with a second penalty by Pienaar after Warriors infringed at a scrum
From the restart Glasgow attacked immediately with a clever kick for Matawalu to chase. The Fijian claimed he was shoulder-charged by Craig Gilroy but after a look at the TV replay Clancy ordered a five-metre.
The outcome was a penalty to Glasgow and a chip to touch, but again MacArthur missed his jumper, allowing Ulster to claim possession and clear to touch. From the ensuing line-out replacement lock Leone Nakarawa made a tilt at the line only to be stopped by Rory Best.
The Ireland hooker, however, was penalised for preventing release of the ball, leaving Russell with a simple penalty.
But minutes later Pienaar answered with a massive kick to restore his side's five-point advantage.
Then in a tension-filled finale Glasgow kept possession through the phases before Russell threw out a huge pass to replacement wing Van Der Merwe, who crashed over in the corner to level the scores.
As the stadium fell silent Russell held his nerve to convert from the touchline to give Warriors the lead for the second time in the match, the extras proving to be the winning points for Glasgow.
Glasgow Warriors - S Hogg; T Seymour, R Vernon, P Horne (S Lamont 70), N Matawalu(D Weir 79); F Russell, H Pyrgos; R Grant (G Reid 45), F Brown (P MacArthur 20), R de Klerk (M Cusack 53), J Gray, A Kellock (L Nakarawa 20), J Strauss, C Fusaro (R Wilson 40), A Ashe .
Ulster - L Ludik; T Bowe, J Payne, D Cave (S McCloskey 77), C Gilroy; P Jackson, R Pienaar; C Black (A Warwick 72), R Best, R Lutton, L Stevenson (R Diack 77), D Tuohy, I Henderson, C Henry (S Reiidy 79), R Wilson .
Ref - G Clancy (IRFU)