Glasgow romped into the Guinness PRO14 final with a half-century and seven tries in a semi-final rout of Ulster at Scotstoun last night.
The Warriors were hardly in doubt from the first few minutes with Tommy Seymour’s early try, but they poured it on with two more before half-time and then a deluge in the second-half to claim the final place at Celtic Park next week.
Glasgow will face either Leinster or Munster in next week’s final, but they certainly should fear no-one after this glorious performance, easily their best of the season.
Matt Fagerson won man of the match with a dynamic performance, but there were candidates across the Warriors team, half-backs Adam Hastings and Ali Price in particular controlling the game superbly.
Head coach Dave Rennie couldn’t have drawn up the first half any better, Glasgow dominating on both sides of the ball with the wind at their backs to build a handsome lead.
It started with a move straight off the training pitch from the first ruck, Scott Cummings’ inside pass springing Kyle Steyn for a 50 metre run into the Ulster 22, followed by some big phases before Hastings’ big miss-pass gave Seymour the try.
Hastings converted from the touchline and added two more when Price sneaked around the blindside for a second score after a Glasgow maul was stopped in the 22.
Hastings and John Cooney swapped successful penalties as Glasgow maintained control but the real blow came just before half-time.
After the home side chose a lineout and a scrum from penalties in their favour in the Ulster 22, Rob Harley finished a series of punishing carries near the line by diving over under the posts. With Hastings’ conversion, Glasgow went into the dressing rooms with a commanding 24-3 lead.
The Warriors defended their 21-point lead like it was just one early in the second half, and a forced fumble by Jacob Stockdale and a scrum penalty raised the early Ulster siege.
Having survived that without damage, the Warriors grabbed the final place with two brilliant tries in three minutes.
First they disrupted another Ulster lineout, won the ball, Sam Johnson brilliantly timed a pass to put Hogg into a gap and the full-back put his long-time partner Seymour in at the corner.
Hastings couldn’t convert, but the stand-off cheekily chipped over the top of the defence in his own half to Hogg, who combined with replacement Ryan Wilson for Steyn to pick his way through the remaining defence to score the fifth try.
Ulster finally broke through with a score from Marcell Coetzee after a trademark maul, but the Horne brothers were on as replacements for Glasgow and they combined superbly as George’s chip was gathered by Pete for the sixth try.
Ireland captain Rory Best left the field in his final game for Ulster to a standing ovation and while his replacement Rob Herring and Michael Lowry scored two consolation tries, the Warriors were on their way to Celtic Park even before George Horne completed their haul with a trademark support run under the posts from Hastings’ break.
Glasgow: S Hogg; T Seymour, K Steyn, S Johnson, DTH van der Merwe; A Hastings, A Price; J Bhatti, F Brown, Z Fagerson; S Cummings, J Gray; R Harley, C Gibbins, M Fagerson.
Replacements: G Stewart from Brown 57, O Kebble for Bhatti 52, D Rae for Z Fagerson 67, R Wilson for Cummings 57, T Gordon for Gibbins 70, G Horne for Price 62, P Horne for Johnson 60, H Jones for van der Merwe 70.
Ulster: M Lowry; L Ludik, L Marshall, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; B Burns, J Cooney; E O’Sullivan, R Best, R Kane; I Henderson, K Treadwell; N Timoney, J Murphy, M Coetzee.
Replacements: R Herring for Best 62, A Warwick for O’Sullivan 50, T O’Toole for Kane 50, A O’Connor for Treadwell 52, S Reidy for Timoney 49, D Shanahan for Cooney 48, D Cave for Marshall 60, A Kernohan for Stockdale 70.
Ref: J Lacey (IRFU)