Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Connacht 14-7 Glasgow

Lee Jones - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Lee Jones - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

With Glasgow and Connacht the standard bearers for fast attacking rugby in the Pro12 this season, this crunch final game of the season promised much until the Galway conditions made the surface and the ball damper than both sides would have liked.

It started at typical high pace, Leone Nakarawa popping through the ruck to set Glasgow up in attack before referee Ian Davies awarded the first penalty. Kicking into the blustery wind, Russell missed it (10 from 10 last week Duncan Weir wasn’t even in the squad) but his instinctive chip kick moments before had indicated that he wasn’t going to let the weather stop him playing his game.

Sadly that couldn’t be said of Gordon Reid, who – after the Warriors broke deep into the Connacht half, again through Nakarawa – dropped Russell’s inside ball with the line open in front of him. Slippery ball aside, Glasgow’s chief problem at that point was over-eager runners clattering into their own team mates; it looked like Alex Dunbar took a bump from behind that resulted in him hobbling off on just 14 minutes.

The new back three of Hogg, Seymour and Jones were looking for counter-attacks and sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Hogg was penalised for holding on after running up a blind alley, and when the home side didn’t want to kick even with the win, it suggested the kicking-tee bearers would have an easy afternoon. Instead the men in green kicked to the corner, drove it for a bit until Nakarawa hauled it down and then the ball spun right to Bundee Aki who had too much power to be held out. This time there was a successful kick and it was 7-0.

Earlier in the season Glasgow were given a torrid time in the front row but Connacht were without several key men and Glasgow had something approaching parity, earning another penalty on 21 minutes which Russell also missed.

Ali Price was marshalling his side well in the absence of Henry Pyrgos, and there was definite profit to be found close in to the rucks where Russell and Horne found plenty of half gaps but the Connacht defence was working very quickly and the first half was far from the easy ride the first 5 minutes might have suggested to Glasgow.

With conditions against them, Connacht managed their half cannily, upping the intensity only when they needed to and piling the pressure on once a score was a genuine possibility, mainly through the hard running of Aki. The half hour mark saw their scrum camped near the Glasgow line but the Warriors repelled them twice. Connacht still turned them over inside their own half and came back on the charge before a spill by Niyi Adeolokun and Hogg’s boot put Glasgow on the front foot for the first time in what seemed like an age.

The key thing as half time approached and the game moved back to the Connacht half: Connacht hadn’t scored again, but even in defence Connacht felt like the side in control, their line speed pushing Glasgow back at every turn even if their work at the breakdown might have merited closer inspection from refereen Davies.

With a change in wind to come and a draw the minimum required for a home semi, Glasgow could in theory have been satisfied – but they would not have been happy.

HT: Connacht 7-0 Glasgow

Glasgow came out attacking with Horne, Russell and Leone as usual the men attempting to inject pace into the line, but the game remained a guddle on the deck.

Gordon Reid showed what he does better than catching pop passes in the midfield with a quick pick and go from the base that gave Glasgow their opening try. It was set up by a series of lineout drives, Fraser Brown having a strong game at hooker with a secure lineout and some big carries.

Russell kicked it this time with the wind behind – although no less challenging – to equalise and put Glasgow in position for that home semi.

Unfortunately there were still 32 minutes to play and Sila Puafisi didn’t make the job any easier with a brainless clearout using his head that gave the referee no choice but to red card him, when ironically Glasgow were due a penalty in any case.

Suddenly the draw looked promising, never mind the win.

Momentum firmly with Connacht, Glasgow were had to chase the game despite parity on the scoreboard. Every little mistake by Glasgow increased the volume of the home crowd, making it even more of an uphill struggle.

Connacht looked like they had run out of props on 55 minutes and with Sean Lamont packing down in the scrum, a move to uncontested scrums was a potential lifeline for Glasgow if he could be put back on the wing. Sadly they found one, and shunted Glasgow about near their own posts until Russell could clear. The brainlessness continued though as Jonny Gray was penalised for blocking a Connacht runner to protect Russell, keeping the ball in Irish hands and in the Glasgow 22.

Sure enough, Connacht got the try they arguably deserved with Tiernan O’Halloran plucking the ball from above Stuart Hogg in the in-goal area. In the wind they got the luck on a risky cross-field kick, while every decent Glasgow break ended in a knock-on.

It was 14-7 entering the last quarter of the game. Glasgow were looking tired and the home semi was drifting out of sight, but still Glasgow carried it forward. Russell often found space to work in but Connacht were very alert to Pete Horne’s threat and he was well shackled. Bennett unfortunately again was very quiet despite the opportunity afforded by Dunbar’s injury until the last ten minutes when he sprung into life.

It was telling that Glasgow’s first real territory in the second half came with 11 minutes to play, and even then MacArthur was not as assured in the lineout as Brown had been and the ball was turned over.

It was one of those days where nothing came off – witness Pete Horne’s dribbled pass to no-one – and no matter how good Glasgow were on paper, on the day there were too many mistakes and Connacht were too focused to let them coast into the semis on talent alone.

Grayson Hart, the only player long enough on the bench to inject any pace into tiring Warriors, took a quick tap on half way to give Bennett and Hogg some attacking positions to work with but Connacht’s defence was tireless and the move that almost the entire Glasgow team was involved in ended in a spillage. Again.

Frustrations spilled over with some handbags that merely served to waste time Glasgow didn’t have, and by the time Davies whistled for a penalty for the home team at the next passage of play, Glasgow had to refocus their minds on a rematch in two weeks time. So, the farewell last week was the Scotstoun farewell for a lot of those Glasgow players after all. Next up is the same team, same venue.

Different result?

SRBlog Man of the Match: a very difficult afternoon for Glasgow, with Finn Russell probably the pick of the quiet backs just for making the fewest mistakes – and he still had a few. For me Fraser Brown was the standout in the pack, carrying hard, secure at the set piece. He should get the start again in two weeks.

Referee: Ian Davies (WRU)

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy; AJ MacGinty, Kieran Marmion; Ronan Loughney, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham; Ultan Dillane, Aly Muldowney; Sean O’Brien, Jake Heenan, John Muldoon (capt).
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, JP Cooney, Rodney Ah You, Quinn Roux, Eoin McKeon, John Cooney, Shane O’Leary, Peter Robb.

Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Peter Horne, Lee Jones, Finn Russell, Ali Price, Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Sila Puafisi, Leone Nakarawa, Jonny Gray (Captain), Rob Harley, Ryan Wilson, Josh Strauss.
Replacements: Pat MacArthur, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, Simone Favaro, Grayson Hart, Mark Bennett, Sean Lamont.

14 Responses

  1. That was awful. Glasgow looked like headless chickens. We all know the Irish teams will cheat at the breakdown and yet Glasgow still has no plan to deal with bodies on tone wrong side and were bullied off the ball umpteen times. Clearly the hindmost foot of each ruck starts right in the middle based on where Connacht lined up. Scottish teams need to wise up and get cute like the Irish and Welsh because there will be days like today when your handling skills let you down and you can’t rely on getting the try you need by fair means.

    1. Agree but I also think that the officials will penalise us more. When Connacht killed the driving maul by JUST cheating, knowing that Davies would do nothing was the turning point for me.

  2. The ‘knock-on’ in the 77th minute when Strauss went to the ground with Glasgow very much in an attacking position looked like cheating from the Irish. The ball sprung up mysteriously forward and could surely only have come off an Irish hand off the floor. This was one of many infringements that Davies missed. Anyway I fancy to get their revenge in 2 weeks despite what the history say about away semi-finals.

  3. Oh dear. Thought the Irish completely bullied Glasgow, particularly the back row . We seemed to lose most of the fights on the deck and were not very cohesive. Of course there were ‘dodgy’ things happening in the melee’s and lots of offside not being refereed, but they must have been expected that kind of game, and Glasgow didn’t deal with it very well.
    Thought Harley and Wilson were entirely anonymous.
    The conditions certainly didn’t suit Glasgow, so lets hope the weather improves, or a similar game might develop.
    Glasgow can still win in 2 weeks time, but they need a dry ball.

  4. Well the last time we played two away games, against the same side, back to back was Edinburgh and if we had won EVEN one of them, today would have made no difference, but we didnt and today we came second.

    Glasgow just did not have the answers and and just looked to be settled in their game when the red card consigned them back to catch up rugby against an irritating side who seemed to make their own luck. Glasgow performace characterised by mistakes, Slow ball, not breaking the gain line. They made poor use of the second half wind , kicked when they should have ran and ran when they should have kicked. Glasgow were rattled by the bully tactics.

    I think we needed a wise old head taking control after the senseless sending off. The front row will be a critical area in two weeks.

    Glasgow can win, however they need to get wise and play as a team.

    1. I think wereally missed Pyrgos. I’m not saying Price didn’t have a decent game but Pyrgos binges measure of calm and control to out attack and takes some responsibilities off Finn. Also think we missed dunbars strong defence and carries when he went off. In toonie we trust for the semi!

  5. I couldn’t watch the game in the Colonies but from the report it sounds disappointing but not out of reach in 2 weeks time if they made so many errors and the margin was still close

    On the other hand Embra sounds like they have not really improved any in the last 12 months. I see they are above teh 3 cellar dwellers who are basket cases but then they are the bottom of the rest

    Not sure where they finished last year but this result if patently not good enough and I would expect some changes to be made. All credit to Solomons in that he has done some good work but the bottom line is where they finish the season and this result is not acceptable

  6. A disappointing day for Glasgow. Looking back, if Glasgow were clinical, they could’ve been a couple of scores to the good in the first 20 minutes, but a lack of clinical passing and finishing resulted in zero points on the scoreboard. Connacht then came back into the game and were clinical to score a try pretty easily.

    Finn really really needs to spend a large part of his time practising place kicking. It’s so important in close games like this and having points on the board changes the mentality of the opposition. A windy day but he must do better.

    The rest of the game I thought Glasgow were poor and made so many mistakes it was hard to build pressure. Maul defence suspect as usual. A real lack of ability to adapt to the blitz defence. We lost 20m in 4 phases at one point though Connacht must’ve been offside, but the decision makers on the field must try and adapt and change tactics. Pull the ball behind and go wide quickly and make territory or kick in the corner instead of repeatedly bashing up and getting smashed back.

    I think Horne had a bit of a nightmare today with his lack of game time recently really showing. The outer backs were then under huge pressure most of the game. Bennett was doing well to make any ground at all. This may have been less noticeable if Dunbar was still on the pitch with his bulk carrying him forward. Hopefully he’s fit for the next game or Sam Johnson as we need a big hitter in midfield. I’d also like to see Ashe in there somewhere. He carries hard and will give another ball carrying option which I don’t think Wilson or Harley gives.

    Puafisi….? Simply moronic.

    The positives are that we still went forward throwing the ball around but mistakes killed momentum. I would hope we won’t play as poorly 2 games running and at least the result today will burn away with the players meaning they’ll come out flying next time. Time to be honest then stand up and be counted. Bring it on!

  7. I think there’s a bit of over-reaction here. At 7 all and 15 men a piece glasgow are cruising into fifth gear with the wind behind them. Red card on, what, 50th minute or so and it’s a completely different game. But still clearly the better team. I was cursing until it we learned it was Connacht in the replay: which will be no bother at all, providing 15 men are kept on the pitch. Now is the business end of the season and Glasgow looked a class above. So they’ll be licking their lips for revenge in the semi. I’m not selling my Murrayfield tickets!

    1. Glasgow went down to 14 men with 32 minutes still to play. Connacht should have been out of sight , instead left themselves vulnerable to a draw.

      If a yellow card is worth 10 points , what is a red worth ? they took 7 points from 32 minutes, what kept them ? the game was finished at 48 minutes.

      Right now, I suspect they may be very vconcerned about facing Glasgow again in the knockout game. They have the crowd, we have wrath.

      Glasgow are a class side and have fine captain however a bit of maturity was needed yesterday , get Al Kellock on the water duties for the next game.

      Talking about vulnerable , the TMO was an Irishman, surely the (Guinness) Pro 12 can do better than leave themselves open to be accused of cronyism.

  8. P.S. Not the game to criticise Finn for his kicking. The first half conditions were impossible. C didn’t even attempt goal from the same distance.

    1. Maybe not this game but in general it needs to be better. Inconsistent is a very fair description.

  9. Intensely frustrating viewing. Started so brightly but didn’t put points on the board. Should have gone to the corner with the first penalty given conditions.

    First half we played way too much same way rugby. When a team blitzes and has you on the back foot, they’re able to get bodies round the corner super quickly and each time you go the same way the problem gets compounded. You need to mix it up – Price will learn from this. Could see at the start of the 2nd that they started the pick and goes and changing up direction of play, which yielded the try.

    Our style is all about momentum – we score 1 and the flood gates open but the Puafisi sending off just killed that. 30 minutes with 14 men is all but impossible – was impressed with the way we carried the ball up the pitch towards the end but they just seemed too exhausted to really threathen in the opposition 22.

    Also weather conditions didn’t suit Russell/Horne at all – praying for decent weather for the return. Talking of which the semi has been organised for Saturday evening – wonder if Connacht keen to turn it into a late night dog fight.

    Don’t have much hope of a Dunbar return – looked bad and the same knee. Just hope it’s not long term for the guy :( Also a real blow against Aki.

    For all the talk of Glasgow not bringing it, have to say, Connacht are a great side. I think Ireland’s international setup is really slow/reluctant to adjust to shifts in the provinces, which has allowed Connacht to slip under the radar a bit. Good to see another team making the step up as Glasgow did a few years ago – but hoping the semi is as far as the Irish men get this time around!

  10. Off topic but the pro 12 awards were last night. Connacht, as the surprise success of the year, predictably dominated winning ‘player’s player’ for Bundee Aki and ‘coach of the season’ for Pat Lam as well as having 7 players in the dream team.

    Glasgow and Edinburgh only contributed a player each with Nakarawa and Cornell Du Preez. Probably a fair representation of a pretty frustrating season at times for both of them.

    Tommy Seymour also got ‘try of the season’ (again) for his score against Ulster. A nice try but not the best of the nominees in my opinion. Should have gone to McLoskey or Gilroy.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion