RaboDirect Pro12 - Glasgow beat Ulster to close gap at top

Glasgow teed upan intriguing RaboDirect PRO12 run in as they edged out leaders Ulster 20-14 at Scotstoun to slash their advantage at the top of the table to just four points.

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RaboDirect Pro12 - Glasgow beat Ulster to close gap at top
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Glasgow Warriors coach Gregor Townsend (PA Photos)

Gregor Townsend's men flirted with disaster as stand-off Peter Horne missed all five of his goal attempts, including an embarrassing conversion effort late in the second half while stationed dead centre and just 15 yards from the posts.

However, tries from Tim Swinson, Tommy Seymour, Peter Murchie and Nikola Matawalu were enough to hold off a determined Ulster side who could only manage three successful penalties from Ruan Pienaar and Stuart Olding's second-half touchdown.

The victory thrilled a capacity 5,600-strong crowd that included Rangers manager Ally McCoist, but there were worried looks as the hosts' South African wing DTH van der Merwe was stretchered off wearing a neck brace and oxygen mask eight minutes into second half following a clash of heads.

Thankfully the early prognosis from Glasgow's medics was positive and his immediate withdrawal had only been precautionary.

Edinburgh centre Nick De Luca was sent off for a dangerous tip tackle on Tom Grabham as the Ospreys secured a comfortable 24-7 victory at the Liberty Stadium.

De Luca saw red four minutes from time to add misery to the Scots as they slipped to their 10th straight defeat in all competitions.

Two tries from No 8 and man of the match Morgan Allen and one from scrum-half Rhys Webb were enough to see the Ospreys home. The Edinburgh try came from flanker Hamish Watson.

Connacht claimed their first-ever RaboDirect Pro 12 away victory over the Blues, with lively flanker Willie Faloon contributing two tries in a 26-22 win.

The only occasion Connacht had previously managed a win in the Welsh capital was in the pre-regional era, when current coach Eric Elwood kicked them to a 6-3 success over the Cardiff club side in 2001.

Edinburgh centre Nick De Luca was sent off for a dangerous tip tackle on Tom Grabham as the Ospreys secured a comfortable 24-7 victory at the Liberty Stadium.

De Luca saw red four minutes from time to add misery to the Scots as they slipped to their 10th straight defeat in all competitions.

Two tries from No 8 and man of the match Morgan Allen and one from scrum-half Rhys Webb were enough to see the Ospreys home. The Edinburgh try came from flanker Hamish Watson.

The win saw the Ospreys climb back into the play-off places even though they failed to gain a bonus point.

Ospreys skipper Kahn Fotuali'i swapped from scrum-half to wing to fill in the position left by Ross Jones' three-week ban for a tip tackle against Connacht.

That meant Webb and Matthew Morgan were named at half-back.

Edinburgh, who were forced into one late change with Andy Titterrell replacing injured hooker Steve Lawrie, included Wales internationals Richie Rees and John Yapp.

Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley named nine players aged 23 or younger as a consequence of international call-ups and injuries.

The Ospreys got on the scoreboard after only seven minutes when some good momentum up field ended with lock Jonathan Thomas putting over Allen for a try converted by Matthew Morgan.

Edinburgh's cause was not helped that fly-half Harry Leonard missed a penalty from 30 metres out and then De Luca knocked on just short of the left corner.

And with the visitors continuing to give away penalties the Ospreys scored a second try through Allen, who went over following pressure from a line-out. Fly-half Morgan converted to make it 14-0 after the first quarter.

The Ospreys continued to dominate and the only surprise was that they failed to add to their lead ahead of half-time.

Even more of a surprise was that Edinburgh scored a try in the final minute before half-time when openside flanker Hamish Watson went over after the Scots created an overlap on the left. Leonard added the extras.

Both Leonard and Morgan missed kickable penalty shots at the start of the second half.

But in the space of three minutes the Ospreys extended their lead to 24-7.

First Morgan kicked a penalty after Edinburgh centre Ben Atiga had been sin-binned before scrum-half Webb crossed for the third try, converted by Morgan.

Connacht claimed their first-ever RaboDirect Pro 12 away victory over the Cardiff Blues, winning 26-22, with lively flanker Willie Faloon contributing two tries in an impressive team performance.

Although the home side recovered from an early deficit to edge in front midway through the second half, they were unable to hold off the enthusiastic visitors.

The only occasion Connacht had previously managed a win in the Welsh capital was in the pre-regional era, when current coach Eric Elwood kicked them to a 6-3 success over the Cardiff club side in 2001.

Their chances were further diminished shortly before kick-off when Scotland international fly-half Dan Parks, who scored 347 points in 38 appearances for the Blues before crossing the Irish Sea last summer, was ruled out by a hamstring strain.

However the Irish ran in two tries in the first five minutes. Fast handling among the threequarters saw captain Gavin Duffy join the line to send South African Danie Poolman speeding in at the flag. And before the Blues could gather themselves, wing Fetu'u Vainikolo put Faloon through some weak tackling to grab another. Miah Nikora converted the second.

As the home team began to get a foothold in the Connacht half, Rhys Patchell landed a long-range penalty and the fly-half was heavily involved, along with No 8 Robin Copeland, in a move which saw wing Harry Robinson dive in at the left-hand corner after 20 minutes. Patchell was off-target with the conversion.

Nikora responded with a penalty when the Blues backs strayed offside but, despite some welcome adventure by both sides, there was no further score before the interval.

The Blues piled on the early pressure in the second period, but had to settle for a penalty by Patchell after Connacht hooker Jason Harris-Wright, in an offside position, impeded scrum-half Lewis Jones. The punishment was doubled when referee Dudley Phillips showed the guilty man a yellow card.

Patchell slotted over another penalty, but it was soon cancelled out by a similar effort from Nikora and when an aggressive Blues scrum allowed Patchell a further opportunity at goal the teenager pulled it wide.

The Arms Park crowd's disappointment was short-lived, however, as sleight-of-hand by debutant replacement Liam Davies allowed Copeland to gallop over just before the hour mark, putting the Blues ahead for the first time.

However their lead was not to last, with Faloon darting over from a scrum for his second try four minutes later.

Patchell's fourth penalty cut the gap to a single point, but Connacht, sensing an upset, forced the Welsh region back into their own 22 and Nikora was able to add another three points following a Blues infringement to seal the win

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