Gilroy stakes claim for Ulster starting spot

Ulster 29 Glasgow Warriors 9
Craig Gilroy gave new head coach Neil Doak a selection headache before next week’s European Cup opener against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.

Gilroy has found his mojo again after a scintillating try in the 66th minute of a pulsating game set up Ulster for a superb victory over table-toppers Glasgow at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday night.

The Ireland international, who had been beset with injuries over the past couple of seasons, came on as a 34th minute replacement for Andrew Trimble, who picked up a toe injury that will be assessed later today.

It was no more than Ulster deserved after out-muscling their Scottish visitors all around the park. Glasgow finally cracked as the pressure told, with Gilroy’s wing partner Tommy Bowe grabbing a second try three minutes later. Fly-half Ian Humphreys had given Ulster a useful lead with five penalties by half-time and his two conversions made the scoreboard look just about right.

Gilroy, though, was just glad to get back to see some action. “I feel really good,” said the five-times capped international. “It was good to get out there. There is tremendous competition for places in the team and it was just great to get my hands on the ball and make a bit of an impact.

Ulster took a nine-point advantage into the interval, with Humphreys rifling over five penalties to Finn Russell’s brace. Two of those came from Ulster’s impressive tight effort where again Andrew Warwick impressed at loose-head.

The second half followed the trend of the first, with Russell converting a penalty in the opening stanza until that wonderful Gilroy try. Bowe’s try was due to typical Ulster in-your-face defence, when he picked up a loose pass to run 40 metres unimpeded under the posts. Humphreys rattled over both conversions for a personal tally of 19 points, and that was that.

ULSTER: L Ludik (Olding, 70); A Trimble (Gilroy, 33) , J Payne, S McCloskey, T Bowe; Ian Humphreys, Paul Marshall; A Warwick (Black, 59), R Best, capt (Herring, 74), W Herbst (Ross, 74), A O’Connor, F van der Merwe (Stevenson, 70), R Diack, C Henry, N Williams (Wilson, 53).

GLASGOW WARRIORS: S Maitland; T Seymour, M Bennett (Matawalu, 60), P Horne (Downey, 56), S Lamont (van der Merwe, 47), F Russell, H Pyrgos; G Reid (Yanuyanutawa, 65), F Brown (Hall, 53), E Murray (Fagerson, 76), T Swinson (Gray, 50), L Nakarawa, R Harley, C Fusaro (Ashe, 75), J Strauss, capt.

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU).


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