Glasgow 33 Connacht 32
By Rob Murphy
A four try second half blitz saved some blushes but failed to rescue a victory for Connacht in Glasgow on Friday night. Against a severely under strength Warriors side, Pat Lam’s men dug themselves into a seemingly hopeless position by the 50 minute mark before launching a fightback for the ages.
The harsh reality however cannot be ignored, Connacht were unable to garner a win away to a Glasgow side missing 20 first choice players to the World Cup and carrying more than a few part time squad members in the game. By the end, Glasgow had a flanker in the centre and two under 20s in their tight five. They somehow survived.
The reason for Glasgow’s win was their display in the second quarter where they turned a 6-3 lead into a 23-6 halftime advantage. Two tries and plenty of sustained pressure did the damage as Connacht failed to cope with some questionable calls going against them during the period. Glasgow were better at retaining possession, more clinical and less error strewn.
After half time, it got worse for Connacht. An attempted clearance kick from scrum half John Cooney on his own 22 metre line went awry when he received position off the lineout only to slip in the process of trying to launch the clearance kick. As he lay flat on the ground, Glasgow’s Rob Harley picked up possession and cantered home for the easiest of scores to stretch the home side’s lead to 30-3.
The recriminations were looking very real for a Connacht side not far off full strength. They were heading for a drubbing of unprecedented proportions and appeared to be both rudderless and devoid of confidence all in one. Yet somehow the westerners found some inspiration and began a hair raising fightback.
Of the starting line up, Eoghan Masterson stood out throughout the game. Even at the worst moments for his team, the number eight was one of the few to excel. It was no co-incidence that his break off the back of a monster scrum against the head sparked the Connacht fightback and the first try finished off by John Cooney.
Soon after that score, Kieran Marmion made an entrance and the replacement was another key reason why Connacht were able to wrestle control of the contest from a now tiring Glasgow side stretched to breaking point by some key injuries either side of halftime.
Dominance at scrum time certainly helped Connacht with Denis Buckley and Rodney Ah You to the fore as Glasgow struggled to compete. The penalty try they conceded on the hour mark underlined as much and marked a full turning point in momentum for the visitors as they moved to within ten points.
It soon got better as another scrum once again proved the launching pad for a try, this time on half way with centre Rory Parata timing a grubber kick into the 22 perfectly for Danie Poolman to run onto and score. The conversion hit the post but the margin was now five points.
Crucially, Connacht failed to maintain the momentum in the intervening minutes and Glasgow’s Rory Clegg capped off a good period of home pressure with a penalty to stretch the lead by to eight after his team had been unlucky to have a try ruled out by the television match official.
In the closing five minutes Connacht got their fourth try with the impressive Nepia Fox Matamua crashing over from a lineout maul. The conversion brought them within one point and for one brief moment in the closing seconds, Fionn Carr appeared to be clear and charging into open space only to be ankle tapped on the way to what might have been the winning score.
Had Connacht rescued the game, all the first half woes would have rightly been forgotten and the perfect start to the season would have been complete but as it is, this was most certainly three points left behind against one of the weaker opponents they will face this season.
Six points from their opening two games is below par but hardly a disaster heading into this unorthodox two week break brought about because of the Rugby World Cup. Connacht return to action on Friday October 2nd against Cardiff at the Sportsground before facing Zebre, also in Galway on October 16. Two wins from those games and all will be well.
8′ 0-3 – penalty: Jack Carty
11′ 3-3 – penalty: Rory Clegg
23′ 6-3 – penalty: Rory Clegg
28′ 9-3 – penalty: Rory Clegg
32′ 16-3 – try: Glenn Bryce; conversation – Rory Clegg
36′ 23-3 – try: Scott Cummings; conversion – Rory Clegg
40′ 23-6 – penalty: Jack Carty
Half-time Glasgow 23 Connacht 6
42′ 30-6 – try: Rob Harley; conversion – Rory Clegg
47′ 30-13 – try: John Cooney; conversion – Jack Carty
57′ 30-20 – penalty try; conversion – Jack Carty
60′ 30-25 – try: Danie Poolman
69′ 33-25 – penalty: Rory Clegg
76′ 33-32 – try: Nepia Fox-Matamua; conversion – Jack Carty
57′ yellow card – Zander Fagerson
Glasgow Warriors: G Bryce; J Bulumakau, P Murchie, F Lyle, L Jones; R Clegg, M Blair; A Allan, P MacArthur, M Cusack, S Cummings, K Low, R Harley, C Fusaro, A Ashe.
Replacements: S Wight for Bulumakau (40 mins), H Blake for Murchie (15 mins), Z Fagerson for Cusack, P MacArthur for Bryce, J Yanuyanutawa for Allan (all 48 mins), T Holmes for Fusaro (52 mins), G Hart for Blair (67 mins).
Connacht: T O’Halloran; D Poolman, R Parata, B Aki, M Healy; J Carty, J Cooney; D Buckley, T McCartney, R Ah You, Q Roux, A Browne, J Muldoon, N Fox-Matamua, E Masterton.
Replacements: K Marmion for Cooney (48 mins), B Marshall for Roux (50 mins), F Bealham for Ah You (64 mins), S O’Leary for Parata (72 mins), C Ronaldson for O’Halloran (78 mins).
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU)
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)