Connacht v Glasgow: Scotland hopefuls shine as Warriors win well on the road

Big performances from Rufus McLean, Kyle Steyn and Sione Tuipulotu instrumental in bonus-point victory

Sione Tuipulotu was named man-of-the-match as Warriors picked puma bonus point win on the road against Connacht. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Sione Tuipulotu was named man-of-the-match as Warriors picked puma bonus point win on the road against Connacht. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Connacht 20

Glasgow Warriors 42

TWO tries each for Rufus McLean and Kyle Steyn, plus a man-of-the-match performance from Sione Tuipulotu, helped Warriors to an impressive bonus-point win from a tricky assignment on the road, providing the Scotland coaching staff with a timely a reminder of that triumvirate’s qualities ahead of the start of the Six Nations next week.

All in all, Warriors head coach Danny Wilson was justifiably happy with what transpired on a typically blustery but dry afternoon at the Sportsground.

“This is a tough place to come against a side who have been going well,” he said afterwards. “I know they are missing three or four internationals, we’re missing seven, so we knew it was going to be a challenge and it was a stalemate for quite a long time, but I thought our boys executed tactically really well playing into the wind in the first half.


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“Then, in the second half, the wind dropped so we ended up playing pretty much the same rugby, but I thought our attack was good, we defended well, our breakdown work was good, and our set-piece went well with a couple of line-out drive scores and plenty of pressure put on their line-out.

“Overall, to come here and do that, was one of the best performances we’ve had,” he added, before highlighting that it was not only the Scotland squad members who had been released for this match that stood up to be counted.

“They were great, they came back in really keen, and I think that was for two reasons – they want to perform well for Glasgow because they are very passionate about what we are doing, and also they want to put a marker down and say that they are in good form to the Scotland coaches,” he said

“But I thought Ollie Smith was also outstanding today. As a young 15 getting his first start in a big game, I thought he did really well.”

Oli Kebble (shoulder and head), Jack Dempsey (shoulder) and Jamie Bhatti (hand) picked up injuries buy Wilson didn’t anticipate these being major set-backs. “A couple of bumps and knocks but we’ve got a week off now so that will allow us to patch up a few boys and go again,” he said.

Warriors got off to a flyer, with Richie Gray disrupting an early Connacht line-out and from he subsequent scrum they powered through several phases to create an opportunity on the left which saw George Horne send McLean over on the left with just three minutes on the clock.

The visitors lost Gray to the sin-bin on eight minutes when he lifted an opponent’s leg and dumped him onto his back as he cleared a ruck, and a magnificent 50-22 kick two minutes later by Tiernan O’Halloran – making his 200th appearance for Connacht – set up an excellent attacking platform from which Sammy Arnold eventually scrambled over, with Cathal Forde‘s conversion nudging the hosts into a two-point lead.

Both teams had come to play, but some resolute defence and mistakes at key moments meant they each took turns failing to capitalise on promising opportunities, until Tom Farrell – nursing an ankle injury – fell off Steyn in midfield, which allowed the Warriors outside-centre to mark his 28th birthday with as easy a try as he is likely to score this season.

Warriors moved further ahead when Tom Gordon won a good penalty over the tackle and Duncan Weir went to the corner, leading to a maul which marched over Connacht’s line at the second time of asking for Fraser Brown to get the downward pressure.

However, a penalty conceded by Kebble for lying over the ball after a tackle allowed Forde to reduce the arrears to seven points on the stroke of half-time.

 

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That gap was cancelled out two minutes into the second half when a ferocious Connacht onslaught led to Paul Boyle burrowing over and Forde converting, but an offside penalty almost straight from the restart allowed Weir to kick three easy points to make it 17-20.

There was then a long passage of kick-tennis which lasted until the otherwise excellent Ollie Smith got bored and tried to run it from deep only to be turned over, leading indirectly to a Connacht penalty which Forde fired home to square it. At this point, Brown, as Warriors co-captain, expressed his frustration to referee Nic Berry that a head-on-head collision which injured Kebble out of the match was not viewed as foul play.

Warriors bounced right back and Sebastian Cancelliere streaked into the danger zone, leading to Boyle being yellow-carded for playing the ball on the deck. A loose pass from George Horne to Bhatti let Connacht off the hook momentarily, but  the visitors kept their foot on the gas and got their reward when Weir’s fine pass sent McLean over for his second and his team’s bonus-point try.

Not to be outdone, Steyn then claimed his second try just 90 seconds later, and a second successful penalty of the afternoon from Weir put Warriors more than two-converted tries ahead with just eight minutes left on the clock.

By this point, Warriors were totally dominant, and replacement hooker Johnny Matthews finished off another line-out drive on the stroke of full-time.

 

Teams –

Connacht: T O’Halloran; A Wootton, T Farrell (S Bolton 23), S Arnold, D Kilgallen (O McNulty 62); C Forde, K Marmion (C Reilly 68); J Duggan (D Buckley 50), D Heffernan (S Delahunt 64), G McGrath (T Tuimauga 62), U Dillane (S Masterson 64), L Fifita, E Masterson, J Butler, P Boyle

Glasgow Warriors: O Smith; S Cancelliere (S McDowall 74), K Steyn, S Tuipulotu, R McLean; D Weir, G Horne (J Dobie 59); O Kebble (J Bhatti 50), F Brown (J Matthews 61), E Pieretto (S Berghan 50), K McDonald, R Gray , R Wilson (L Bean 68), T Gordon, J Dempsey (A Miller 45).

Referee: Nic Berry

 

Scorers –

Connacht: Tries: Arnold, Boyle; Con: Forde 2; Pen: Forde 2.

Glasgow Warriors: Tries: McLean 2, Steyn 2, Brown, Matthews; Con: Weir 3; Pen: Weir 2.

Scoring sequence (Connacht first): 0-5; 5-5; 7-5; 7-10; 7-12; 7-17; 10-17 (h-t) 15-17; 17-17; 17-20; 20-20; 20-25; 20-30; 20-32 20-35; 20-40; 20-42.

 

Yellow cards –

Connacht: Boyle (53mins)

Glasgow Warriors: Gray (8mins)

 

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About David Barnes 3041 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

10 Comments

  1. Horne and Weir definitely played better than they have and Smith was unlucky not to get man of the match, or whatever they call it these days. This was a solid performance and an away win in Ireland is to be celebrated.
    One note of concern, I assume the presence of the referee signals he will be in charge of a 6 Nations game. I hope it’s not any of ours. He was appalling.

  2. a very very good win
    Many pluses – McDonald great, again, currently top lock at Glasgow. Richie Gray despite the card probably his best performance since his return. Gordon a very decent back up to Darge (what a turnaround!).
    Half backs though. Horne better than at any point this season or much if last season, and no real balls ups a welcome change, but his box kicking still isn’t as good as it needs to be. Weir was ok in much of open play, just passing ball on, but no threat ball in hand – something you need in Galway conditions; which brings me to my main criticism of him. The wind there is always strong, it goes from gusty to gale all through most games. Weir is a very experienced 10 and has played there, watched many. Goal kicking into it is tricky, but put it high and the trajectory will shift. Try and push the kick lower and you have a much better chance. Trying to clear the height of the posts from wide is doomed to fail more often than not. Same for his kicks from hand first half, some poor kicks, and one IIRC cost a try.
    One thing Dempsey and Tuipolotu do is really accelerate into contact. Could do with more doing that, especially Kebble

    Nit picking maybe, a very very good win, but points Glasgow need to look at

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  3. Yeah, Connacht were strangely a bit off colour, but this was one of the better Glasgow performances over the full 80 in a long time… Left another 2 or 3 out there as well.

    Strangely seem a more coherent side without some of our stars, with the squad players stepping up as well in Smith, Cancelliere, good to see Gordon get game time, and big Staffy on as well…. Steyn is simply understatedly excellent, a bit Maitland like in his professional decision making, just needs to stay injury free to get more caps, surely!

  4. Average, got the win, but against a.strangely weak Connaught – not something you would usually expect to say. Fraser Brown is a funny guy, his PerryMason turns after an incident has been revived and decision taken were pure panto season. I wonder how many decisions he influences against his team.
    Never the less any win in Galway is welcome.

    • Brown explaining the protocol that refs are supposed to apply for head on head contact wasn’t funny. It shouldn’t be necessary, and Berry still ignored it. By that same protocol and umpteen other offences over the last couple of seasons, that was a red card. No question

  5. ‘the otherwise excellent Ollie Smith got bored and tried to run it’ pretty sure he didn’t get bored….. do wonder with this sit sometimes

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  6. A Top performance in what is a very difficult venue to come and win at. Just what was required after the European disappointment. They are a bit up and down this year and this performance was probably one of their best of the season. It still makes me wonder how on earth they were so bad against Exeter in that last 30. Today they were dominant in the last 30 when often Connacht can some on strong. Lots of good performances. I thought Horne was more like his old self looked sharp and dangerous. I think getting a start is what he needed as coming on for the last 10 minutes is no good for building any confidence. Ollie Smith also played well and Steyn was good. In the forwards – Brown and Gordon were good and I thought Kebble was better than his previous game. I assume he got a rocket after the La Rochelle game for his lack of interest. He’s a giant of a man and if he can just up his physicality a bit more he can be a handful.

  7. A great win in a fixture that always had great potential for a banana skin of a game. Scoring 6 tries and a bonus point win is a great result as well as the effort of the last 20 minutes where the game was won. The defensive effort was great and the forwards gave it their all. The backs looked great especially Steyn and Tuipulotu. Thought Weir and Horne made a great pairing the whole back row went so much better than the last few games and good to see Weir get a full game and for it to go so well.

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