ULSTER had their lead at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 slashed to just four points after their away defeat to Glasgow.
The 20-14 defeat now sets up an intriguing run for the league leaders as they also chase their dream of lifting the Heineken Cup.
Gregor Townsend’s men, fresh from last weekend’s record-breaking 60-3 mauling of Newport-Gwent Dragons, completed their sixth successive league victory to ensure a thrilling climax to the league campaign.
Yet they 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.
However, Glasgow’s medics appeared positive after his withdrawal saying it had only been precautionary.
Pienaar kicked Ulster into the lead with a penalty before Swinson claimed the opening try for Glasgow, swan diving over the line for his third score in two games after his double against Dragons.
Pienaar edged Ulster back into the lead with another penalty and the scores remained as such until two minutes before the break when Warriors scrum-half Matawalu robbed Pienaar as he waited for the ball to emerge from a scrum and handed over to right wing Seymour for a simple finish.
Just 31 seconds into the second half full-back Murchie chased down Paddy Wallace’s kick five meters from his own try line and snaffled up the loose ball to extend Glasgow’s lead to nine points.
Pienaar was able to add a third penalty of his own to bring the scores to 15-9 and they finally found their way over the tryline on 67 minutes as Olding made the most of an overload down the right to score in the corner.
Just as it looked set for a tense finish, however, Glasgow struck again as Matawalu collected a stunning offload by substitute Sean Kennedy just as he hit the deck to run in under the posts.