Connacht defeated but Elwood departs on emotional high

Province unable to record their ninth – and highest – number of wins ever in the Celtic League

Connacht’s head coach Eric Elwood after the match with Johnny O’Connor and his son Jack. Photograph: Inpho

Connacht’s head coach Eric Elwood after the match with Johnny O’Connor and his son Jack. Photograph: Inpho

Fri, May 3, 2013, 22:40

Connacht 3 Glasgow 20: Eric Elwood’s era of 24 years continuous service for the province came to an end in Galway last night in front of 6,081 supporters who turned up to salute their most illustrious rugby player in his final match in charge of the province.

Connacht responded to Elwood’s desire to sign off his tenure with a flourish, but they were unable to record their ninth – and highest – number of wins ever in the Celtic League. Glasgow were too strong on the night.

Connacht’s defeat could not stop the home fans saluting their team for 15 minutes after the match, and in particular departees Johnny O’Connor, Adrian Flavin, Mike McCarthy and of course Elwood.

Connacht were stymied by a Glasgow outfit for long periods in the opening half. Although restricted by the wind, it was not Connacht finest first half. Dan Parks missed an opening chance from a first minute penalty, and thereafter the home side struggled to make headway.

Connacht failed to protect the ball sufficiently against the Scots who bossed the contact area, and they opened their tally when Jackson potted a drop goal in the 12th minute. When DTH Van deer Merwe registered the first try four minutes later, spinning out of two tackles from Sean Lamont’s pass, Jackson added the conversion for a 10-0 lead.

Glasgow butchered another try opportunity despite a three to one overlap before the visitors found themselves down when prop John Welsh was binned. It provided Connacht with some much-needed rhythm and a super break from Tiernan O’Halloran, a late replacement for Fetu Vainikolo, resulted in a penalty just before the break which Parks struck to narrow the half-time lead 10-3.

The home side looked a different outfit for long periods of the second half, but could not make the scoring breakthrough. The visitors introduced their bench, including Lions stars Sean Maitland and Stuart Hogg, who edged his side further in front with a penalty before influential replacement scrumhalf Matawalu cut loose to set up Maitland for the decisive try.

CONNACHT: G Duffy (capt); D Poolman, E Griffin, B Murphy, T O’Halloran; D Parks, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, E Reynecke, R Loughney; M Swift, M McCarthy; A Browne, J O’Connor, E McKeon. Replacements: A Flavin for Reynecke, Rodney Ah You, for Wilkinson (HT), J Muldoon for McKeoin (48m), M Kearney for O’Connor and JP Cooney for Loughney (50), A Flavin for Reynecke (55m), , P O’Donohoe for Marmion (63)m), M Fifita for Browne M Nikora for Parks (72m).

GLASGOW WARRIORS: P Murchie; T Seymour, S Lamont, P Horne, DTH van der Merwe; R Jackson, H Pyrgos; M Low, P MacArthur, J Welsh; T Swinson, T Ryder; R Harley, J Barclay, R Wilson. Replacements: R Grant for Low, D Hall for MacArthur, E Kalman for Welsh (50m), J Straruss for Harley (56m), MacArthur for Hall (57m), N Matawalu for Pyrgos, S Maitland for Seymour and S Hogg for Jackson (all 63m), J Eddie for Swinson (70m).

Referee: G Clancy (Ireland).