Wednesday 26 October 2016

Connacht to face Leinster in PRO12 final

Published 21/05/2016 | 22:01

Connacht's dream season continued at the Sportsground where they dethroned reigning champions Glasgow Warriors 16-11 to reach their first GUINNESS PRO12 final.

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Despite having prop Rodney Ah You sin-binned with eight minutes left, Pat Lam's men stood firm to set up an all-Irish decider with Leinster at BT Murrayfield next Saturday.

Winners over Glasgow here a fortnight ago, Connacht built a 10-3 half-time lead with AJ MacGinty and Duncan Weir swapping penalties before flying winger Niyi Adeolokun blazed through for a smashing 36th-minute solo try.

Leone Nakarawa's unconverted effort made it a two-point game, but that was as close as the Scots came as two more MacGinty penalties, sandwiching a lone Weir kick, maintained Connacht's push for a fairytale league title.

Finn Russell and Zander Fagerson were both forced off after a first-minute clash of heads, with Glasgow also leaking three penalties inside the opening 10 minutes.

Connacht had nothing to show for their early possession and territory, however, and Glasgow also stuttered in attack, failing to capitalise on a five-metre lineout.

Eoin McKeon had a try ruled out for a prior knock-on from man-of-the-match Bundee Aki - ruining an excellent assist from Tiernan O'Halloran - but MacGinty slotted over a 24th-minute penalty to break the deadlock.

Connacht's lead lasted just two minutes, Russell's replacement Weir replying from the left wing after some snappy breakdown work from the Glasgow forwards.

The Scots suffered further disruption with the injury-enforced departure of flanker Simone Favaro, and a piece of individual brilliance sent Connacht back in front.

The Nigerian-born Adeolokun gobbled up Aki's grubber kick just past halfway, evading the grasp of Stuart Hogg and two more defenders on a superb surge to the try-line.

MacGinty's conversion was followed by arguably Glasgow's best spell, their pack threatening from a close-in lineout before Josh Strauss was held up just under the posts.

Penalties thwarted both sides' attempts to score on the resumption before the increasingly influential Nakarawa crashed over near the left corner, rewarding Mark Bennett for a terrific initial break through midfield. Weir's conversion attempt drifted wide.

It took a Sean Lamont tackle to deny Matt Healy at the other end, before MacGinty and Weir exchanged further place-kicks approaching the hour mark.

A Nakarawa lineout steal helped Glasgow to survive a tricky defensive period, yet a subsequent scrum penalty saw MacGinty steady Connacht at 16-11.

Accidental offside spoilt what would have been a fantastic second try from Adeolokun - via Robbie Henshaw's flicked pass - and Connacht's task grew more difficult after Ah You was carded for a high tackle on Hogg.

Still, Glasgow were mostly contained in their own half for the remainder, with powerful replacement Taqele Naiyaravoro well marshalled, and Lam's workhorse side deservedly marched on to Murrayfield.

Press Association

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