Connacht v Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors were edged out in their opening match of the 2020/21 campaign, as Connacht claimed a hard-fought 28-24 victory at The Sportsground.

Tries from Nick Grigg, Huw Jones and Tommy Seymour ultimately proved in vain for Danny Wilson’s side, with the consolation of a losing bonus-point after an encounter that saw the lead change hands multiple times.

In front of 200 of their supporters, it was the home side that came out firing from the first whistle. Jack Carty was happy to provide the opening points of the encounter with less than two minutes on the clock, punishing a Glasgow indiscretion at the breakdown to give Connacht a 3-0 lead.

Indeed the men in green were clearly in the mood in their first match at The Sportsground for seven months, starting at a frantic pace. Carty had the chance to double his side’s advantage with 10 minutes played, but the fly-half pulled his penalty attempt wide of the left-hand upright.

Glasgow required a spark, and it would be their co-captain to provide it. A loose lineout from Connacht allowed Fraser Brown to burst clear, charging 50 metres into the Connacht half. The home side’s scramble defence covered the break but at the expense of a penalty, and Glasgow were into the match.

Wilson’s men were beginning to exert real pressure in Connacht territory, and the first try-scoring opportunity of the match came the way of the visitors. A long ball out wide from Hastings found Jones, but the full-back’s switch with Robbie Nairn broke down at the last. An earlier infringement saw Connacht second-row Quinn Roux sent to the sin-bin, but try as they might the Warriors were unable to capitalise with the man advantage.

Yet for the remainder of the half, the attacking intent was all Glasgow’s. A chip from Carty was well-fielded by Stafford McDowall, before the centre combined with centre partner Grigg to launch a counter attack that saw Glasgow sweep into the Connacht 22.

It was from there that the first try of the match eventually came on the stroke of half-time. With yet another advantage in hand after Connacht infringed at a five-metre lineout, a half-break from Hastings allowed the fly-half to feed Grigg on the short ball. The centre did the rest from close-range, Hastings converting from in front of the posts for a 7-3 lead at the break.

The second-half began in much the same vein as the first, with defences on top early on. It was once again the Warriors that launched the first real attack of the half, as an audacious chip on his own five-metre line saw Hastings and Jones combine to break into Connacht territory.

It would be the home side that would be the first to trouble the scorers in the second stanza, however. A break from Tom Farrell with advantage in hand saw the Connacht centre get in behind the Glasgow defence, with Bundee Aki on hand to collect the offload and crash over from 15 metres. Carty’s conversion levelled the scores at 10-10, as the game entered the final half-hour.

Connacht had found their attacking rhythm, and their second try arrived eight minutes later. A break from Alex Wootton saw Connacht take play to within five metres, before Roux barged over from close range to touch down. Carty converted, and the home side led 17-10.

That lead lasted all of two minutes, as Glasgow posted an immediate response. Solid lineout ball from Scott Cummings set up the field position for Ali Price to feed Fraser Brown, who slipped a sublime inside ball to the onrushing Jones. The full-back had a lot to do from 25 metres out, but his pace and footwork saw him apply a tremendous finish for the score, Hastings adding the extras from in front of the posts to tie the game.

Yet again the lead would change hands, as a Carty penalty edged Connacht ahead once more on 64 minutes. From the kick-off, Connacht struck for their third try of the evening. A slip in midfield allowed John Porch to break free and feed Wootton, whose kick ahead allowed Aki to win the foot race and slide over. The conversion sailed wide, but Connacht led 25-17.

As the game entered it’s closing stages, the deficit was cut to one with another well-worked Glasgow try. Perfect hands in midfield from Pete Horne and Grigg saw Seymour freed in the wide channels, and the British and Irish Lion had more than enough pace to beat the scrambling defence. Hastings converted from out wide, and the Warriors were chasing the comeback.

It was not to be, however. An over-zealous Warriors turnover attempt allowed Carty to put the game out of reach with three minutes to go, his penalty from 40 metres allowing Connacht to hold on. Glasgow will travel home with a losing bonus-point, as attentions turn to next weekend’s home opener against the Scarlets at Scotstoun.

live commentary 5:15 PM Saturday 3 Oct 2020

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