A big impact off the bench from Scotland squad members Jamie Bhatti, Fraser Brown, Simon Berghan and Ali Price was crucial to Glasgow Warriors extending their unbeaten run in all competitions to 10 matches.

It wasn’t pretty as a spectacle but beautiful in its ferocity, and the result means Franco Smith’s side will travel to South Africa for their re-arranged match against the Lions next Saturday in good heart – even if they will be without their Scotland squad members, who will all be in Paris on Six Nations.

A late John Cooney penalty earned Ulster a losing bonus point which keeps themnarrowly ahead of Warriors in third place in the United Rugby Championship table.

The hosts wasted no time in setting the tone. They won possession back straight from kick-off and then sent a kickable penalty to touch as they set up camp in Ulster’s 22, but they couldn’t find a way round or through Ulster’s determined defence and a Sione Vailanu knock-on allowed the visitors to clear the danger.

Having survived that early onslaught, Ulster threatened when they won a penalty near halfway on the right, and the quick-witted Billy Burns spotted Jacob Stockdale unmarked on the left touchline, and Warriors could have been in trouble if the bounce had been favourable for the Irish winger.

The deadlock was eventually broken on 17 minutes when Warriors kicked another penalty to the corner, Scott Cummings claimed the line-out and Valianu got the downward pressure after the maul had rumbled over the line.

Tom Jordan didn’t manage the touchline conversion, and Ulster responded in a positive fashion to spend the next 10 minutes camped deep inside Glasgow’s 22, aided in no small part by series of penalties conceded by the home team. The pressure finally told when blindside flanker Harry Sheridan rumbled over from a quick pick-up at the base of a close-range ruck.

Ulster continued to dominate during the final 10 minutes of the first half and it took some great work over the tackled man by Johnny Matthews to earn a home penalty which relieved the relentless pressure – but the same man was then culpable for the visitors being handed a three-point lead on the stroke of half-time, with his arm wrapping round Burns’ neck to conceded a penalty on the stroke of half-time, which Nathan Doak fired home from halfway.

With the weather deteriorating, the start of the second half was scrappy and the biggest talking point during this period was the arrival off the bench of John Cooney – with the Irish capped scrum-half on the precipice of a controversial Scotland call-up if you believe the Murrayfield whispers. Gregor Townsend sat impassively in the main stand as the camera operator for the big screen at Scotstoun focused in on him.

Ulster appeared to be slowly getting the upper hand, but without making it count where it really matters, and the arrival off the Warriors bench of an all-international front-row plus 2021 Lions scrum-half Price shifted momentum.

It was another Scotland squad member who pushed the hosts back into the lead, with Jack Dempsey powering over on a flying-wedge at the front of a close-range line-out.

That was the decisive moment, with Warriors dominating from then on, and they stretched further ahead on 75 minutes when Brown bustled over following another well-worked line-out maul. Duncan Weir nailed the conversion from wide on the left for good measure, before Cooney slotted his injury time penalty.

The watching Townsend will have taken notice of that. This is the appeal of Cooney – the flip-side is that he has been capped by Ireland and the new eligibility laws were not introduced for tier one teams to pinch off each other to paper over cracks in their development programmed.