Westerners’ run comes to a painful end
Glasgow 39 Connacht 21
Unbeaten Glasgow ended Connacht’s unbeaten start in the Pro12 with a five-try victory at Scotstoun.
Both sides produced crowd-pleasing rugby but the Warriors’ pace behind the scrum proved the difference.
Connacht matched the Glasgow forwards in the scrums, showed tight fringe defence and an ability to move the ball wide effectively.
But against a Glasgow backline that thrives in dry conditions, the Westerners were ultimately unable to prevent the Warriors’ flair from producing a winning formula.
Connacht can take much from this match, not least their powerful scrummaging together with impressive individual performances from the likes of full-back Darragh Leader, scrum-half Ian Porter and lock Aly Muldowney
Glasgow showed their intent to win straight from the kick-off with attacking rugby and an ability to hold on the ball for extensive periods that put Connacht under immediate pressure.
The visitors’ defence held out doggedly but after centre Mark Bennett was held up over the line, Glasgow had four successive scrums in the red zone and they eventually used the narrow side to work Stuart Hogg over for the opening try, converted from wide out by Duncan Weir.
The visitors showed their attacking skills with a break by out-half Jack Carty but an interception by Glasgow wing Sean Lamont prevented the move from developing.
But from the ensuing scrum Connacht pulled the Glasgow defence to the right before setting up a try for centre Dave McSharry from Carty’s grubber kick, Porter’s conversion levelling the scores.
Glasgow’s reply was two minutes of continuity rugby that ended with a penalty award and a second successful kick for Weir.
Then from the restart the Warriors worked they way upfield to score their second try from Henry Pyrgos’ charge-down of Leader’s attempted clearance kick, Weir adding the extras to give his side a 17-7 lead they maintained until half-time.
Six minutes into the second half, Glasgow extended their lead with a second try by Hogg after the full-back had received the ball on the end of some audacious handling that overstretched the Connacht defence .
Connacht hit back emphatically with a series of forward drives close to the Glasgow line before Leader took a long cut-out pass and with just enough room managed to ground the ball in the corner, Porter succeeding with the touchline conversion.
Almost immediately the game’s try tally increased yet again and this time it was Glasgow who supplied the score as winger DTH van der Merwe, coming off his blindside wing, raced through a gap in the Connacht defence to claim the bonus point score, Weir succeeding with the easy conversion.
A penalty try converted by Porter brought Connacht to within eight points but the gap was soon extended after Weir kicked his second penalty goal.
From the restart Connacht worked their way into the Glasgow 22 only for Bennett to intercept and run 80 metres for Warriors’ fifth try, again converted by Weir to seal a crucial win that sends the Scots top of the table.
Glasgow – S Hogg; S Lamont, M Bennett, J Downey, DTH van der Merwe; D Weir, H Pyrgos; G Reid (J Yanuyanutawa 67), P MacArthur (K Bryce 64), E Murray (R de Klerk 59), T Swinson, A Kellock (T Ryder 48), R Harley (J Eddie 64), C Fusaro, A Ashe
Connacht – D Leader; D Poolman, R Henshaw, D McSharry (C Ronaldson 52), M Healy (F Carr 40); J Carty, I Porter (J Cooney 72); D Buckley (R Loghney 58), D Heffernan (R Delaney 76), R Ah You (N White 58), M Swift (Q Roux 40), A Muldowney, J Muldoon, E McKeon (M Kearney 68, G Naoupu.
REF – C Bessano (Italy)