Saturday 24 February 2018

Elwood lays down law over discipline

Hugh Farrelly

CONNACHT will be looking to draw on the positives from a strong start to the Magners League when they take on Glasgow in Firhill tonight (7.30).

Connacht's thumping opening win over the Dragons in Galway was followed up by an undeserved injury-time defeat in Llanelli last weekend.

Still, Eric Elwood's side have amassed a healthy six points after two outings and know they have the firepower to do the Warriors damage -- having crossed the line on seven occasions, three of those tries coming from winger Fionn Carr.

Carr lines out again tonight in an unchanged starting XV, with Elwood making one change to the replacements bench, the fit-again Andrew Browne coming in for David Nolan.

The injury worries that forced training to be cancelled this week have eased somewhat, with centre Niva Ta'auso, flanker Ray Ofisa and second-row Bernie Upton passing fitness tests.


Aside from injuries, the main issue for Elwood this week has been discipline, or lack of it. Connacht have picked up four yellow cards, two in each game, and their coach has laid down the law ahead of the trip to Glasgow.

The Warriors followed their opening round win over Leinster with defeat to the Dragons last weekend. However, Firhill is a notoriously difficult venue, with no Irish side winning there since Ulster in April 2009.

Coach Sean Lineen gives talented young flanker Robert Harley his first start of the season, but it is their open-side and captain John Barclay's breakdown work and link play which is the real threat to the visitors.

Jamie Hagan, who has made an impressive start to the season, faces a tough scrummaging duel against Jon Welsh and Ta'auso with Graeme Morrison providing the direct running in midfield.

An away victory would be a fantastic achievement by Connacht, but a losing bonus point may again be their lot.

Verdict: Glasgow

GLASGOW -- B Stortoni; DTH van der Merwe, M Evans, G Morrison, H O'Hare; R Jackson, C Gregor; J Welsh, F Thomson, E Kalman; T Ryder, R Gray; R Harley, J Barclay (capt), R Vernon. Reps: P MacArthur, K Tkachuk, M Low, A Muldowney, C Forrester, H Pyrgos, D Weir, P Murchie

CONNACHT -- G Duffy; T Nathan, N Ta'auso, K Matthews, F Carr; I Keatley, F Murphy (capt); B Wilkinson, S Cronin, J Hagan; M Swift, B Upton; M McCarthy, R Ofisa, M McComish. Reps: A Flavin, R Loughney, R Sweeney, A Browne, S Conneely, C Willis, M Nikora, T O'Halloran.

REF -- L Hodges (Wales)

Irish Independent

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