Connacht coach Andy Friend labels defeat to Glasgow as ‘unacceptable’

‘We missed a couple of key individuals . . . but it’s for other blokes to step up’

Connacht 20 Glasgow Warriors 42

“No excuses, lack of energy and spark, stupidity of penalties, unacceptable.”

Livid head coach Andy Friend says Connacht can no longer be "honourable losers" after Saturday's 42-20 defeat to Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground in Galway – a result which has sent them adrift of URC leaders Edinburgh by 14 points.

“I don’t think there are mitigating circumstances,” Friend says, despite the unavailability of several key players, including Bundee Aki, Jack Carty, Finlay Bealham, Cian Prendergast, in addition to notable frontrow injuries.


“There are other teams who are missing players. It cannot be the excuse if we are looking to grow as a province.

“We missed a couple of key individuals who normally give us that energy, but it’s for other blokes to step up. We gave them an opportunity, I thought we were right, but on that performance we obviously weren’t. Credit to Glasgow, they were way, way, way better.

“To have a reasonably packed house, Tiernan O’Halloran’s 200th game, Cathal Forde’s first, our head physio Garrett [Coughlan] leaving – so many big things to play for and we delivered that – so really disappointing.”

Having achieved a top 16 qualifying spot in the Heineken Champions Cup for the first time in the province’s history, a follow-up performance was expected. Instead, he says, Connacht have been left with an uphill battle to qualify for next season’s European cup.

“We were in a healthy spot leading into this game, but a win was crucial for us. We all knew that, but didn’t get it. So next week becomes so, so important for us.”

Heading to Belfast to face Ulster, he says Connacht have made it harder for themselves – and “if we play like that, they will be put 60or 70 on us”.

At the Sportsground Warriors ran in six tries to move into the top four of the URC table.

Connacht, hit by injuries and absences, were competitive but limited against a Glasgow pack that had more punch, but it was not until Connacht lost a player to the sin-bin after 53 minutes that the Warriors took advantage and posted two tries from which the home side could not recover

Glasgow had taken a 17-10 lead into the break with three first-half tries to Connacht’s single effort, but within two minutes Paul Boyle crashed over and debutant Cathal Ford converted. Both sides exchanged penalties before Paul Boyle was yellow carded, and thereafter the visitors took control, adding three tries and a penalty.

SCORING SEQUENCE – 3 mins: R McLean try 0-5; 13: S Arnold try, C Forde con 7-5; 19: K Steyn try, D Weir con 7-12; 36: Fraser Brown try 7-17; 40: C Forde pen 10-17. HT 10 -17; 44: P Boyle try, C Forde con 17-17; 48: D Weir pen 17-20; 51: C Forde pen 20-20; 60: R McLean try 20-25; 63: K Steyn try, D Weir con 20-32; 73: D Weir pen 20-35; 80: J Matthews try, D Weir con 20-42.

CONNACHT: T O'Halloran; A Wootton, T Farrell, S Arnold, D Kilgallen; C Forde, K Marmion; J Duggan, D Heffernan, G McGrath; U Dillane, L Fifita; E Masterson, J Butler (capt), P Boyle.

Replacements: S Bolton for Farrell (24 mins), O Dowling for Fifita (41), D Buckley for Duggan (51),T Tuimauga for McGrath, O McNulty for Kilgallen (both 59), S Masterson for Dillane (64 ), S Delahunt for Heffernan (66), C Reilly for Marmion (69).

Yellow card: Paul Boyle (54 mins).

GLASGOW WARRIORS: O Smith; S Cancelliere, K Steyn, S Tuipulotu, R McLean; D Weir, G Horne; O Kebble, F Brown, E Pieretto; K McDonald, R Gray; R Wilson, T Gordon, J Dempsey.

Replacements: A Miller for Dempsey (45 mins), S Berghan for Pieretto (49), J Bhatti for Kebble (51), J Dobie for Horne (59), J Matthews for Brown (62), L Bean for Wilson (69), R Thompson , S McDowall for Cancelliere (73).

Yellow card: Richie Gray (9 mins).

Referee: N Berry (Australia).