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Ulster see off Warriors
O'Connor struggles with the boot but Irish side hold on
New Ulster coach Mark Anscombe made a winning start as tries from wingers Michael Allen and Craig Gilroy brought Ulster an opening RaboDirect Pro12 League victory over Glasgow.
Ulster were always the hungrier side and big performances from Nick Williams and John Afoa along with youngsters Allen and Luke Marshall helped bag them the four points, though their winning margin would have been greater had Niall O'Connor been more accurate from the tee.
After an opening 10 minutes in which neither side made much impression, Ulster opened their account with an O'Connor penalty with the former Connacht player's first touch after he replaced the injured Paddy Jackson.
The Warriors, though, evened matters up 10 minutes later with a Duncan Weir penalty after Nick Williams was penalised at the breakdown. Ulster then came close when Williams lost the ball over the line before O'Connor hit an upright with a 27th-minute penalty.
The fly-half then missed again with a similar chance on the half-hour but Ulster again responded through their pack and one driving maul for the Warriors' line resulted in Glasgow winger - and former Ulster player - Tommy Seymour being sin-binned for dragging the maul down.
The net result was a series of scrums near Glasgow's line and ultimately Williams drove off the base, linked with Stevenson and Jared Payne's loopy skip pass put Allen in at Seymour's corner for a score which O'Connor could not convert.
The half ended with Weir attempting a drop goal which sailed left of the posts and Ulster went in leading 8-3.
They started the second half in perfect fashion when Craig Gilroy intercepted Weir's pass and ran all the way in under the posts from just outside his own 22, with O'Connor this time making no mistake with the extras to put Ulster 15-3 to the good.
The game then became disjointed as the benches were emptied and then just after the hour, Glasgow replacement Ruaridh Jackson's 63rd-minute penalty hit an upright and Tom Court - who had just arrived to make his 100th Ulster appearance - dived on the ball as Ulster cleared the danger.
But then, on a rare attack, Jackson worked Seymour clear and the winger rounded two defenders to score before Jackson then added the conversion to narrow Ulster's lead to 15-10.
Ulster were then unable to build on their lead when O'Connor was again wide with a 72nd-minute penalty attempt but did hit one in the last minute.
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Guinness PRO12 Table
|Sunday 8th March|
|16:00||Dragons vs Ulster|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:35||Ulster vs Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 11th April|
|14:40||Connacht vs Ulster|
|Friday 24th April|
|19:35||Ulster vs Leinster|
|Saturday 9th May|
|15:00||Ulster vs Munster|
|Saturday 16th May|
|15:00||Glasgow Warriors vs Ulster|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com