Connacht lose out in thriller
Glasgow 33 Connacht 32
Published 12/09/2015 | 02:30
For sheer excitement last night's Pro12 at Scotstoun will be hard to better but in the end the celebrations were in the Glasgow camp as their young and inexperienced side, after capitalising on Connacht mistakes, held on for a narrow victory.
Glasgow led 9-3 early in the second quarter with three penalty goals by Rory Clegg to one by Jack Carty before showing the form that won them the Pro12 title last season, with a try by full-back Glenn Bryce converted by Clegg.
Warriors soon increased their lead with a move from a penalty-created line-out, Glasgow prop Alex Allan making the first dent in the Connacht defence before second row Scott Cummings, a member of Scotland's under-20 side last season, drove low before stretching out to score his side's second try.
Clegg converted but just on half time Connacht clawed back three points with a second penalty by Carty to go into the break trailing 23-6.
Connacht's hopes of making an immediate impact at the start of the second half were thwarted with a third try for Glasgow, this time Rob Harley taking advantage of a loss of footing by John Cooney as the scrum-half attempted to clear from the line-out, Clegg again converting.
Minutes later Cooney atoned in a big way - the scrum-half taking a pass from number 8 Eoghan Masterton to romp over for a try which was converted into the wind by Carty.
Glasgow then changed their entire front-row and Connacht took advantage, the visitors' powerful scrum earning a penalty try after Glasgow's Zander Fagerson was shown the yellow card, and Carty's conversion bringing the Galway men within ten points of Warriors.
Scrum power then produced a further try as Carr latched on to a grubber kick by Rory Parata to dot down in the corner for an unconverted try bringing the scoreline to 30-25.
A Clegg penalty gave some relief to Glasgow but Connacht quickly reasserted themselves. From a rolling maul, flanker Sepia Fox-Matamua scrambled over for a try, with Carty's conversion from wide out bringing Connacht to within a point of Glasgow. But in a frantic finiish Glasgow showed true grit to deny the visitors.
GLASGOW WARRIORS - G Bryce; J Bulumakau (S Wight 40), P Murchie (H Blake 15), F Lyle, L Jones; R Clegg, M Blair (G Hart 67); A Allan (J Yanuyanutawa 48), P MacArthur (K Bryce 48) , M Cusack (Z Fagerson 48), S Cummings, K Low, R Harley, C Fusaro (T Holmes 52), A Ashe.
CONNACHT - T O'Halloran (C Ronaldson 78); D Poolman, R Parata (O'Leary 72), B Aki, M Healy; J Carty, J Cooney (K Marmion 48); D Buckley, T McCartney, R Ah You (F Bealham 64), Q Roux (B Marshall 50), A Browne, J Muldoon, N Fox-Matamua, E Masterton.
REF - Ian Davies (WRU)
Steve Hansen has refused to name the biggest threat to New Zealand as the champions bid to make history by retaining their Rugby World Cup crown.
All Blacks boss Hansen's deadpan response to being asked for New Zealand's top challengers was to name Argentina - the 2011 World Cup winners' opening Pool C opponents.
Head coach Hansen did agree the 2015 tournament will be the most open global battle yet, but claimed his side would disrespect their rivals by listing a clutch of favourites.
"Oh Argentina," replied a tongue-in-cheek Hansen when quizzed on the greatest threats to New Zealand's crown.
"They are the next game we play so they are our biggest threat.
"Look I'm not going to sit here today and say who the threats are, because that's not being respectful.
"We haven't earned the right to sit here and say who's going to play in the semi-finals, quarter-finals or finals.
"If we earn the right to get through to there then whoever it is on the other side of the white line will be the team that's the biggest threat.
"But there's a lot of hard work and pain to go through before we get to that point.
"If you take your eye off the ball, you'll lose the ball - you don't want to do that."
New Zealand have won two World Cups, both on home soil. The All Blacks open their title defence against Argentina at Wembley tomorrow week.
Hansen and company are intent on winning both on their travels, and becoming the first side to win consecutive World Cup titles.
Evergreen flanker Richie McCaw ground New Zealand to World Cup glory in 2011, but was hardly forthcoming when asked to offer England tips on how to handle home-pressure tournament.
The wariness continued as Hansen chimed in "don't tell them too much mate!" as McCaw prepared to offer insights into handling the hype of hosting a World Cup.
"From our experience I don't think we understood the hype of what was going on around the country because we put ourselves in a bit of a bubble," said McCaw.
"We didn't really realise that until afterwards. You put your head down in that regard.
"That pressure's there for us regardless, so it doesn't change now that we're playing away from home."
Experienced centre Ma'a Nonu missed New Zealand's squad flight to London owing to illness, but Hansen confirmed the 33-year-old will shortly link up with the squad after overcoming his bug.
Australia have planned to all-but split their squad to prep two different teams to face Fiji then Uruguay in their opening two Pool A matches.