Glasgow v Connacht: Warriors dig deep to maintain winning momentum

Glasgow Warriors kept winning momentum going with hard-fought win in final URC regular season game against Connacht at Scotstoun

Huw Jones scored Glasgow Warriors' opening try but later suffered a head injury against Connacht. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Huw Jones scored Glasgow Warriors' opening try but later suffered a head injury against Connacht. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Glasgow Warriors 29

Connacht 27

DAVID BARNES @ Scotstoun Stadium

WINNING this match was not a necessity given that their fourth place finish at the end of the league section of this URC campaign was already in the bag, but managing to get over the line with their noses just ahead of a determined Connacht side who had a dominant scrum early on is certainly not going to do Glasgow Warriors’ morale any harm as they enter the knock-out stage of the season.

Franco Smith‘s sids will be battle-hardened and confident when they take on the Scarlets in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup next Saturday evening, although they could have done without the head injury suffered by Huw Jones and the leg injury suffered by Jamie Dobie which now makes both those players a doubt for that match.

Warriors will hope for a more polished all-round performance in Llanelli, but the really important thing to take out of this contest is that they are still in a winning habit (six on the bounce and 15 victories plus a draw from their last 17 games) which is massive.


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“Winning was the most important thing for us tonight against a motivated team from Connacht,” acknowledged Smith. “I’ve known Andy Friend [Connacht head coach] for a long time and his teams are very, very well prepared. With them fighting for a guaranteed Heineken Cup place tonight, their motivation, in certain ways, was maybe even more than ours.

“I’m just glad we hung on. There are a lot of lessons to be learned, because that’s how it’s going to be going forward: tight games.”

Warriors started impressively, pressurising Connacht into conceding a line-out just outside their 22 starlight from the kick-off and then launching ferocious passage of play which featured powerful midfield bursts from Stafford McDowall and Jones, before Rory Darge sucked in three defenders the clicked a backhanded offload to send Jones home.

Tom Jordan, who was becoming the first Warrior to feature in every round of the league season since Bernardo Stortoni in 2009-10 – a particularly impressive feat given that this is his debut season in full-time pro rugby – slotted the conversion.

Connacht bounced back with Jack Carty‘s kick behind being chased hard to push Jones into carry the ball back over his own line, meaning a scrum-five which Warriors tight-head Lucio Sordoni twice wheeled before referee Italian Gianluca Gnecchi lost patience and awarded a penalty try.

The home scrum continued to struggle, but their play around the park was sharp, and they regained the lead when stand-off Jordan just before contact, which spooked the visiting defence into stepping off the tackle, and the New Zealander found himself streaking under the posts unchallenged.

Warriors lost Dobie, a scrum-half playing on the wing, when he fell awkwardly after a high tackle and suffered a leg injury, and they were then reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes when Scott Cummings was sent to the sin-bin for an obstruction as Coalin Blade chased his own kick ahead, and Jack Carty stepped up to kick the three easy points which reduced it to a four-point game.

Connacht took further advantage of the extra man when a wild McDowall set up a long period camped inside the Warriors 22, before visiting No 8 Cian Prendergast piled over team-handed from short range following a five-metre tap penalty, with Carty adding the extras.

But Warriors didn’t panic, and they struck back before Cummings had returned to the fray with Ali Price finishing off on the left after some sharp inter-play featuring McDowall, Jack Dempsey and Jordon.

Back to full strength, Cole Forbes thought be had claimed try number three a few minutes later at the end of a sweeping counter-attack sparked by Sam Johnson gathering a loose-ball and Jordan ghosting through a gap to escape downfield, but the TMO identified that the ball had then been dislodged forward by Tiernan O’Halloran as he landed an excellent cover tackle on the linking Jones, so the score was correctly not given.

Jones had hit the deck hard and was caught inadvertently on the back of the head by the covering Cathal Forde during that passage of play. The in-form utility back looked groggy as he made his way from the field for an HIA, which he didn’t pass.

With Zander Fagerson on at tight-head for the concussed Lucio Sordoni, Glasgow’s scrum started to get on top, and that provided the platform from which they spent thew final few minutes of the first half battering the Connacht line, before a knock-on right in front of the posts by Johnson let the visitors off the hook.

Glasgow Warriors’ and indeed Scotland’s reliance on Fagerson being available for more games than he misses is quite frightening, and highlights the dangers of relying so heavily on an overseas recruitment programme which has had very limited success in recruiting players in the positions where this country has most need.

The third quarter was a scrappy stalemate, with the main talking point being another injury in the home back-line, this time suffered by Forbes, which meant Warriors played the final 25 minutes with back-row Matt Fagerson doing a pretty credible impression of an authentic three-quarter.

Glasgow dominated this period but some heroic Connacht defence meant the bonus-point try did not arrive until just after the hour mark, when Johnny Matthews showed impressive body-contortionist technique to force the downward pressure after a line-out maul had rumbled over the line, for his 12th try of the season. Horne nailed the touchline conversion for good measure.

Horne and Carty exchanged penalties as the game began to meander, before Seamus Hurley-Langton bustling over for a try converted by Carty made for a tense final five minutes.

When Shane Jennings and John Porch back-pedalled Johnson by 30 yards, it set up an off-the-feet penalty, Carty decided it was out of his reach from 45 yards and kicked towards the corner, and a malfunctioned Connacht maul meant Warriors held on for the win.

 

Teams –

Glasgow Warriors: H Jones (D Miotti. 37); C Forbes (M Fagerson 55), S McDowall©, S Johnson, J Dobie ( G Horne 11); T Jordan, A Price; A Dell (J Bhatti 45), F Brown (J Matthews 45), L Sordoni (Z Fagerson 30), S Cummings, R Gray (J du Preez, 52), R Darge, S Vailanu, J Dempsey.

Connacht: T O’Halloran (S Jennings 68); J Porch, T Farrell (T Daly 59), C Forde, B Ralston; J Carty ©, C Blade (K Marmion 54); D Buckley (P Dooley 17), D Tierney-Martin (E de Buitléar 50), F Bealham (S Illo, 40), O Dowling (D Murray, 54), N Murray, J Murphy, C Oliver, C Prendergast (S Hurley-Langton 40).

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)

 

Scorers –

Glasgow Warriors: Tries: Jones, Jordan, Price, Matthews; Con: Jordan, Horne 2

Connacht: Tries: Penalty Try, Prendergast; Con: Carty; Pen: Carty.

Scoring sequence (Glasgow Warriors first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-7; 12-7; 14-7; 14-10; 140-15; 14-17; 19-17 (h-t) 24-17; 26-17;

 

Yellow cards –

Glasgow Warriors: Cummings (23 mins)

 

Attendance: 6,589


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About David Barnes 3956 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.

15 Comments

  1. Is it fair to ask if the referee policed offside and the rucks properly? I appreciate the purpose of the Connacht defence was to get in the faces of their opponents as quickly as possible, but they often seemed to start from a little closer than I believed the rules allowed. Entering rucks from the side is also worthy of a penalty normally, but not in this game.

    Never mind, a win’s a win and hopefully, from the injury update I just read, Jones and Dobie have good prospects for a quick return.

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  2. What on Earth was Minnoti doing kicking the ball to c Connacht with barely a minute to go! What do rugby players have for brains??

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    • Hang on why the thumbs down? It’s a reasonable point: a minute 26 on the clock to go, no guarantee even though Connacht were in or around their 22 that they couldn’t profit in some fashion, it was a 2 point differential.
      Miotti had a 3 to 2 situation but game management, sorry, it’s a reasonable question, that apart why didn’t they keep it in the forwards, being adventurous is one thing giving up possession in those circumstances, well think about it a penalty against Warriors and who knows what could have happened games have gone on for minutes when the clock is in the Red.
      Disagree with a comment by all means but just thumbs down in the circumstances that were being commented on, a bit harsh and in my opinion unjustified, unless anyone can suggest otherwise, although as I’ve often commented other views are available, but give them rather than just click a button.

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      • I downvoted him for the last part of his sentence, people can make their points without insulting the players they are supposed to be fans of.

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      • its fair to ask why the down vote. To have a decent conversation and learn form others it helps if they explain their point of view. So credit to AngryGala2 for explaining, even if belatedly.
        On the Miotti kick, I think where Warriors were on the park and how decisions had been going, the idea was to get the ball out of pen kicking range. As it happens we saw how keen the ref was to give a pen, and he did. Fortunately out of Carty’s range and Cummings killed the lineout maul.
        Small margins. I’d often agree not to kick the ball away but there is often more than one way to view it.

      • @AngryGala2 – To be reasonable you are correct about rudeness, I certainly try and avoid it, however on the scale of things I thought the point being made more pertinent than the suggestion rather than the final comment, I’m content to let others consider what is and what isn’t derogatory.

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      • Don’t take it to heart George. We cant debate every downvote on this site and there are plenty off them in every article – some a bit random.

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  3. A hard-fought win, but a win nonetheless – and winning has become a much-cherished habit under Franco. The Mish is coming back strong over at Edinburgh, but Darge cranks it up just a notch further every time. What a fantadstic wee player he is. Zander also made a massive difference in the scrum and his recent form his been formidable. Full marks to Connacht, who came closest of all the visitors to Fortress Scotstoun this year. I was impressed at how for the most part they halted that fearsome Warriors rolling maul from the five metre line. There is steel in that unfancied side and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they got a result over in Belfast. Curiously they did themselves a big favour by losing last night, otherwise it could have a been a long haul down to the Cape. Finally, good luck to Huw and Jamie in their recovery – even when played out of position they are sharp weapons.

  4. Before tonight Connaught had the best scrum in the league and they looked it in the first half! What a difference when Fagerson came on. As their coach said he’s pretty handy off the bench!

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  5. For a makeshift team that became more makeshift as the game went on, that was another good ground out win against a surprisingly good Connacht side. So we are in the URC play offs and considering we could hardly win away from home at the start of the season and took till round 9 for an away win we have made great progress.
    We are in the play-offs of the URC and Challenge cup and in to the Champions cup next year that’s great progress by Franco, thank you sir.
    The big worry are the injuries and the lack of winger’s Dobie and Horne do not really fit the bill though they are doing not to badly. On to Scarlets and Munster one game at a time.

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  6. Tense game, a good win when off par against a very well drilled Connacht team – injuries a real concern tho for coming weeks particularly in the backs…. Expect two very difficult games over next two weeks which will really test us, but isn’t it just great to still be in the hunt in the league and cup after regular season games. Of course we all want more, but if we go no further, this first season has still been a resounding success for Franco and the lads! Come on the Warriors!!!

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    • Down to the bare bones in the backs, however Glasgow keep on winning, Connacht a physical strong well coached outfit but Glasgow prevailed.
      Darge McDowall Jones all excellent but Z Fagerson came on and changed the game.
      A real pity the tremendous Forbes try was chalked off.
      Hope most of the guys are fit for Saturday

    • Full marks to the Warriors for holding off a very determined side from Galway, but perhaps Glasgow should have taken the chance of two eminently kickable penalties in the 2nd half rather than kicking to the corner…..it’s always important to keep the scoreboard ticking in tight matches like this. Good luck to the boys in the next two vital matches…..we’re all rooting for you!

      • Yeh, this has been a bugbear of mine for the last few games. We’re not managing the scoreboard very well and keep going to the corner.

        I’d reckon that both the scarlets and Connacht games would’ve been comfier wins if we had taken a few of the kicks on offer. Get that margin and then you can attack with a bit of scare free attitude. Instead we’re only a few points ahead and at risk of a penalty losing the match.

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