Thursday 22 February 2018

Connacht forced to settle for a losing bonus point in horrendous conditions in Galway

Connacht 12 Glasgow Warriors 18

Bundee Aki of Connacht Rugby after the Guinness PRO14 Round 1 match between Connacht Rugby and Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground in Galway. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Bundee Aki of Connacht Rugby after the Guinness PRO14 Round 1 match between Connacht Rugby and Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground in Galway. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

John Fallon

The four Irish provinces have not won on the opening weekend since 2007 and that went unchanged at the Sportsground tonight as Connacht slipped to a defeat in dreadful conditions.

Connacht, having only won six of 14 home matches against Glasgow, came with a late surge in an effort to snatch victory but they were denied in this battle between the 2015 and 2016 champions.

Conditions were appalling for the opening game of the season with driving rain and a strong wind making it extremely difficult for both sides.

Inevitably, there was little running rugby and instead errors and scrums were the order of the evening as the crowd of 4,017 sought shelter in their stands.

It was a rough introduction to life in these parts for former Cheifs’ colleagues Dave Rennie and Kieran Keane as they battled it out with each other with their new clubs.

The Connacht scrum was in difficulty early on but got it sorted as the opening half progressed.

Connacht were unfortunate not to get in for an opening half try but the Glasgow defence was good and several surges from the likes of Ultan Dillane, Denis Buckley and Tom McCartney were stopped just short of the line.

Jack Carty gave Connacht a second minute lead with a penalty after they took the game to Glasgow but the conditions on the night became clear when Peter Horne saw a penalty from just 15 metres fail to reach the posts before the wind blew it back into play. It was that sort of night.

Horne made no mistake with his second kick but they, like Connacht, were just unable to string moves together as handling was almost impossible.

Connacht’s improved set-piece yielded field possession and it took some franctic defending by Glasgow to keep them at bay.

Carty edged Connacht back in front after 19 minutes and then negotiated the conditions on the stroke of half-time to give them a 9-3 advantage as they turned around to face the elements.

Glasgow hit Connacht hard on the restart with Horne cutting the gap with a penalty after six minutes.

But then another knock-on, this time by winger Cian Kelleher, gave Glasgow an attacking scrum from 35 metres and they used it for Adam Ashe and Horne to combine to send scrum-half Ali Price over for a converted try to lead 13-9 after 49 minutes.

Connacht were given hope going into the final quarter when Carty did superbly to steer a penalty from 25 metres into the strong wind and leave the minimum between them.

But another knock-on, this time by the other winger Matt Healy, once more proved very costly as Glasgow got their second try from the scrum with Price’s crossfield chip was collected by Leo Sarto on the left touchline to send Lee Jones over in the corner to make it 18-12 after 72 minutes.

Scorers – Connacht: J Carty 4 pens, 

Glasgow Warriors: A Price, L Jones tries; P Horne 2 pens, con.

Connacht: D Leader; C Kelleher, E Griffin (T Farrell 50), B Aki, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, T McCartney, F Bealham (C Carey 56); U Dillane, J Cannon; E Masterson (S O’Brien 50), J Butler, J Muldoon.

Glasgow Warriors: R Jackson; L Masaga, A Dunbar, S Johnson (A Hastings 8) (L Sarto 58), L Jones; P Horne, A Price (H Pyrgos 73); J Bhatti (O Kebble 38-40) (Kebble 46), G Turner (J Malcolm 73), Z Fagerson; T Swinson  (G Peterson 73), S Cummings; R Wilson, M Smith (M Fagerson 61), A Ashe.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU).

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