Glasgow Warriors V Connacht
An impressive all-round performance saw Glasgow Warriors seal a winning return to Scotstoun, running in six tries in a 43-17 victory over Connacht this evening.
Notching their first try within a minute of play, the Warriors proved too strong for their Irish opponents, with five different scorers touching down for the home side in an entertaining affair.
Making their first appearance in front of the Warrior Nation for almost a month, Glasgow wasted no time in making a statement. From their first attack, Ruaridh Jackson’s wide pass found Kyle Steyn, with the Scotland 7s international bursting through the Connacht defence. The winger’s pass was perfectly timed to put George Horne away for the try with a mere 45 seconds on the clock, Brandon Thomson’s conversion making it a perfect start for the hosts.
The visitors responded positively, probing for a response. Kieran Marmion’s clever dart through a breakdown forced Horne and Jackson into some superb cover defence, whilst Conor Fitzgerald pushed a penalty attempt wide of the uprights.
Instead it was the Warriors who extended their lead on 16 minutes. Another impressive burst from Steyn caused panic in the Connacht defence, with Horne taken out off the ball as he looked for an offload from the winger. Thomson made no mistake with the resulting penalty, and the home side led 10-0.
Connacht eventually found a way through the Glasgow defence after 21 minutes, as Tiernan O’Halloran’s arcing run allowed him to feed Stephen Fitzgerald for a simple run-in out wide. The conversion sailed wide, however, leaving the Warriors with a 10-5 lead.
Yet the Warriors’ physicality was coming to the fore as the half progressed, and their second try of the night arrived as a direct result. With Thomson electing to kick a penalty to the corner, Glasgow’s forwards set about their work in the Connacht 22. Whilst the initial drive was repelled, the ball was recycled through the phases before Tim Swinson eventually bulldozed his way over from short range. Thomson was unerring from the tee once again, the score line reading 17-5 at the half-hour mark.
The pack was at it again for Glasgow’s third try, which arrived two minutes before the interval. A rolling maul from five metres out proved too much for Connacht, Grant Stewart the man to touch down. Referee Ben Whitehouse sent visiting lock James Cannon to the sin-bin for his illegal attempts to collapse the maul to boot, as Thomson’s conversion took the score to 24-5 at the break.
With a bonus-point to aim for, the Warriors came out of the changing room firing. The crucial fourth try was secured just four minutes into the second stanza, with forward power again at the heart of proceedings. Once again it was Stewart that applied the finishing touch from a dominant maul, and once again it was Thomson that added the extra two points from the tee.
Cannon’s return from his spell on the sidelines seemed to galvanise the visitors, as they pushed for a way back into the encounter. Yet despite sustained pressure in Glasgow territory, the Warriors’ defence stood resolute, Stafford McDowall producing a try-saving tackle to deny Kyle Godwin at the end of an inspired defensive set.
Connacht finally found a way through on 62 minutes, despite the best efforts of their hosts. Replacement flanker Paul Boyle was the man on hand to force his way over, with Godwin – having taken over the kicking duties – unable to add the extras from out wide.
Glasgow responded immediately, much to the delight of the home crowd. Stewart’s subtle pass released Robbie Nairn on a rampaging run into the Connacht 22, where he was dragged down by the covering defence. However, the Warriors calmly recycled the ball through the phases in their search for an opening. When the opening arrived, it was Nairn himself that capitalised from four metres, touching down for his first try in a Warriors jersey. Thomson’s conversion was on target once more, making it 38-10 to the home side.
It was then over to the visitors for another response, as they crossed for their third try with ten minutes to play. Good interplay between Cian Kelleher and Godwin allowed Tom Daly to cross, Godwin adding the conversion for Connacht’s first successful kick of the match.
The Warriors were to have the final word, however. Rory Hughes’s run saw Glasgow break into the opposing 22 once again, before a pinpoint kick from Jackson allowed Nairn to gather and touch down for his second score of the night. A difficult conversion saw Thomson miss from the tee for the first time, yet with the final score reading 43-17 in his side’s favour, the job was well and truly done.