Glasgow Warriors 19 Ulster 22
Ruan Pienaar was the hero for Ulster at Firhill, his man-of-the-match haul of all 22 points ensuring his side snatched a last-gasp victory against a typically dogged Glasgow side to climb to second in the Magners League.
A self-converted try and five penalties, the last of which came in the final seconds, were enough to see off the Warriors, whose sole try came from Ryan Grant.
Scotland fly-half Ruaridh Jackson booted 11 points, while his replacement Duncan Weir set up a tight finish with a late penalty.
The hosts held the upper hand in the opening exchanges, an early Jackson up-and-under causing havoc in the Ulster ranks. From the ensuing pressure, the home stand-off notched the game’s first points, converting a straightforward penalty after Pedrie Wannenburg was penalised for a short-armed tackle.
Parity was restored in the 12th minute when Ulster fly-half Pienaar slotted a 40-metre penalty resulting from a front-row infringement in the scrum. Moments earlier, he had failed with a more challenging attempt from the touchline after Glasgow prop Moray Low had been penalised for a cynical block on Scotland colleague Simon Danielli.
Low’s front-row colleague Jon Welsh created the first try-scoring opportunity, with a grubber kick to the corner only just eluding Canada flyer DTH van der Merwe.
Having gone so close to the opening try, the Warriors swiftly shot themselves in the foot, referee David Jones detecting yet another offence in the front row of the home scrum and presenting Pienaar with a simple penalty chance which he stroked over.
The half closed with the Warriors once again on top but they were made to pay when Jackson overcooked a touchline kick and Pienaar thumped over a monster penalty from inside his own half to stretch the Ulster advantage to six points.
Fly-half Jackson was heavily involved in the early stages of the second period, two early penalty misses denting his side’s aspirations even as his thrusting running maintained their dominant field position.
On 48 minutes, Jones awarded a scrum penalty in favour of the home side, and this time Jackson made no mistake from straight in front.
The Ulstermen’s creaking defence was eventually breached when towering lock Ally Muldowney crashed through a lineout to charge down scrum-half Paul Marshall’s kick. Muldowney showed great awareness to scoop the loose ball back to the onrushing Ryan Grant, on as a replacement, who powered over from close range. Jackson added the extras.
Straight from the restart further indiscipline handed Pienaar an opportunity to restore his side’s lead, but his penalty attempt drifted wide.
Returning Ireland hooker Rory Best entered from the Ulster bench with 20 minutes to play, but his stay was short-lived as only minutes later he was ordered to the sin bin for an indiscretion at a ruck. Jackson added to his side’s lead with the resulting penalty.
Pienaar atoned for his earlier misguided efforts with the boot in emphatic style with the game entering the final 10 minutes, scrambling over for a self-converted try, which needed confirmation from the video referee, to level the scores.
And level was how it remained until the dying moments. Pienaar appeared to have secured the victory with a sweetly-struck penalty from halfway but Weir knocked over a long-range effort to set up a tense finale.
And it was left to Pienaar to have the final say, after backchat among the Glasgow ranks moved a long-range penalty into the South African’s kicking range and he duly converted to grab the victory.