Wednesday 26 June 2019

Connacht slip out of the Pro12 Top Six after heavy Glasgow defeat

Robbie Henshaw, Connacht, is tackled by Richie Vernon, Glasgow Warriors
Robbie Henshaw, Connacht, is tackled by Richie Vernon, Glasgow Warriors
Adam Ashe, Glasgow Warriors, celebrates after scoring his sides fourth and bonus point try. Guinness PRO12, Round 20, Connacht v Glasgow Warriors
Adam Ashe, Glasgow Warriors, goes over for his sides fourth and bonus point try
Henry Pyrgos, Glasgow Warriors, is tackled by Jack Carty, Connacht
Leone Nakarawa, Glasgow Warriors, is tackled by Tom McCartney and John Cooney, Connacht
Robbie Henshaw, Connacht, in dispute with Peter Horne, Glasgow, Warriors during a second half exchange
Finn Russell, Glasgow Warriors, is tackled by Jack Carty, Connacht
Niko Matawalu, Glasgow Warriors running in his sides third try
Niko Matawalu, Glasgow Warriors, 11, is congratulated by his team-mates after scoring his sides third try
Robbie Henshaw, Connacht, is tackled by Chris Fusaro, Glasgow Warriors
Tiernan O’Halloran, Connacht, is tackled by Jonny Gray, Glasgow Warriors
Aly Muldowney, Connacht, is tackled by Jonny Gray, Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors' clinical finishing proved too much for Connacht as the Guinness PRO12 leaders ran out 31-13 bonus point winners at the Sportsground.

Connacht controlled much of the first half but trailed 19-6 by its end, Niko Matawalu bagging a brace and Stuart Hogg also dotting down as the Warriors profited from the Irish province's errors.

Aly Muldowney's fifth try of the league campaign brought the hosts closer either side of yellow cards for Glasgow duo Tommy Seymour and Chris Fusaro. However, Adam Ashe's 67th-minute effort sealed the bonus point and Seymour added a flattering fifth before the end.

Results this weekend have seen Connacht relinquish their grip on sixth place in that battle for European Champions Cup qualification. Pat Lam's men are now four points behind Edinburgh with the Scarlets also pushing hard.

In the build-up to this round 20 clash, Gregor Townsend dubbed Connacht's scrum the best in the league, and the hosts duly won the first scrum against the head with a dominant shove.

Jack Carty curled over the opening penalty soon after, rewarding half-breaks from Tiernan O'Halloran and Muldowney, and Glasgow had a let-off when Rodney Ah You was pinged for an early push just five metres out.

Carty did make it 6-0 with a terrific strike from distance after hands in the ruck from Euan Murray, but a couple of loose Connacht line-outs gave the Warriors a foothold and they quickly took full advantage.

Man-of-the-match Henry Pyrgos pinched scrum ball under Kieran Marmion's nose, launching a dangerous spell inside the Connacht 22 which ended with Fraser Brown's brilliant one-handed offload putting Matawalu over in the right corner. Finn Russell's conversion fell wide.

Glasgow's first-time captain Jonny Gray was warned by referee Marius Mitrea about his side's indiscipline, however Carty missed to the right and left with two difficult place-kicks.

Connacht's failure to put more points on the board was emphasised when the Scots stung them with two opportunist tries before the interval. A series of missed tackles allowed Seymour to sail through midfield and his pass put Hogg over to the right of the posts.

Russell converted and also added the extras to Glasgow's third touchdown which saw Fijian Matawalu intercept a Robbie Henshaw pass as Connacht tried to counter from deep.

It was Henshaw and Carty who combined to prevent Russell from opening the second period with another intercept score, and the penalties finally caught up with Glasgow when winger Seymour saw yellow for a ruck offence.

Connacht's passing let them down, though, as they failed to put an unmarked Matt Healy over out wide and a poor Carty pass led to a turnover from a five-metre scrum.

However, the hosts' persistence paid off in the 53rd minute as Muldowney reached over from close range after Henshaw and Denis Buckley had both gone close.

Carty added the conversion but he blotted his copybook with a frustrating penalty miss as the gap remained at six points (19-13) despite some incisive play from Healy and Henshaw.

That was as close as it got as Townsend's charges found their rhythm in attack again.

While flanker Fusaro was in the bin for a high tackle, replacement Josh Strauss broke through to tee up a simple run-in for fellow back rower Ashe. Russell converted and quick hands put Seymour over in the right corner for a closing five-pointer.

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