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No happy ending for Elwood as Warriors spoil leaving party

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3 May 2013; Connacht head coach Eric Elwood before the game. Celtic League 2012/13, Round 22, Connacht v Glasgow Warriors, The Sportsground, Galway. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

3 May 2013; Connacht head coach Eric Elwood before the game. Celtic League 2012/13, Round 22, Connacht v Glasgow Warriors, The Sportsground, Galway. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

3 May 2013; Connacht head coach Eric Elwood before the game. Celtic League 2012/13, Round 22, Connacht v Glasgow Warriors, The Sportsground, Galway. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

There was no dream finish to Eric Elwood's Connacht career as Glasgow Warriors spoiled the party ahead of next weekend's Pro12 semi-final against Leinster.

The Sportsground paid tribute to Elwood (pictured), Johnny O'Connor and Adrian Flavin, who all retired from Connacht action, but there were no celebrations as Warriors ruthlessly picked apart the home side.

It was a very special night for O'Connor, who had the pleasure of leading out the side in his final game in the green shirt.

And in the opening minute, the Sportsground faithful were reminded of what they'll be missing next season, when two positive carries from the former Irish international forced the concession of a penalty. However, with the wind swirling Dan Parks missed the target from in front of the posts.

The game was played at a ferocious pace from the off, but once the heat was turned up at the breakdown, Glasgow began to gain the upper hand.

They took the lead after 12 minutes when Ruaridh Jackson – in for the injured Duncan Weir – landed a tricky drop-goal from the 10-metre line, despite struggling to gather the initial pass from Henry Pyrgos.

Four minutes later it got even better for the visitors as DTH Van Der Merwe became Warriors' all-time leading try scorer when he powered past the tackle of Parks after Sean Lamont made ground down the blind side.

Jackson stretched the lead out to 10-0 with a splendid conversion from the left touchline, but midway through the opening half their early charge was slowed when tighthead prop Jon Welsh was sin-binned on the advice of George Clancy's touch judge.

Warriors didn't concede a point in the period Welsh was missing, but the hosts did manage to get off the mark a minute before half-time when Parks slotted a penalty, when Warriors second-row Tom Ryder was penalised for a blatant off-side infringement.

Gregor Townsend's side took a 10-3 lead into the break and they could have stretched their advantage immediately after the restart when Connacht replacement prop Rodney Ah You lost his footing in the first scrum of the half, but Jackson's kick from the right narrowly missed its target. After a blistering 51 minutes the Sportsground waved goodbye to one of its heroes as O'Connor was replaced by Mick Kearney.

Connacht seemed lifted by the reception given to O'Connor and they began to gain the upper hand at the breakdown as the physicality was upped another notch.

Jackson nearly put the result beyond any doubt on the hour mark when he almost inter-cepted a Parks pass on the half-way line, but despite their first-half dominance they failed to pull away from the determined home side.

Townsend sprung Niko Matawalu, Stuart Hogg and Sean Maitland from the bench in the last quarter to try and wrap up the win, and 15 minutes from time Hogg was given the chance to get some kicking practice ahead of the Lions tour.

He made no mistake with his first effort to stretch Glasgow's lead to 13-3. Ten minutes from time Matawalu and Maitland combined as the winger celebrated his Lions call-up with a great try in the right corner, which Hogg converted.

Connacht – G Duffy; D Poolman, E Griffin, B Murphy, T O'Halloran (M Nikora 73); D Parks, K Marmion (P O'Donohoe 62); B Wilkinson (R Ah You h-t), E Reynecke (A Flavin 55), R Loughney (JP Cooney 51-55, 65); M Swift, M McCarthy; A Browne (M Fafita 65), J O'Connor (M Kearney 51), E McKeon (J Muldoon 48).

Glasgow Warriors – P Murchie; T Seymour (S Maitland 63), S Lamont, P Horne, DTH Van Der Merwe; R Jackson (S Hogg 63), H Pyrgos (N Matawalu 63); M Low (R Grant 51), P McArthur (D Hall 51) (P McArthuer 58), J Welsh (E Kalman 51); T Swinson (J Eddie 72), T Ryder; R Harley (J Strauss 55), J Barclay, R Wilson.

Ref – G Clancy (IRFU).

Irish Independent