Connacht 20 Glasgow Warriors 42
Connacht’s strength in depth took a beating by Glasgow Warriors who ran in six tries to move into the top four of the United Rugby Championship table at the Sportsground on Saturday afternoon.
It was not just their pack that contributed to this win – the backs also played their part, led by man-of-the-match Sione Tuipouutu, who epitomised their strength in both attack and defence.
Connacht, hit by injuries, 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.
Andy Friend’s side were neither sufficiently clinical nor composed in the final quarter despite creating scoring opportunities, resulting in a rare hammering at the Sportsground, which boasted its first full house of 4,500 after all Covid restrictions were lifted.
Former Connacht attack coach Nigel Carolan would have pleased with his Glasgow's 17-10 lead into the break with three first-half tries to Connacht's single effort.
With a 50-plus kilo advantage up front, Glasgow used it to good effect from the get-go. They had made it count within three minutes with left wing Rufus McLean racing in for the opening try.
Connacht were able to take advantage when Richie Gray was sin-binned for dangerous play at the breakdown, and from a scrum, the pack made the hard yards before Kieran Marmion sent it wide. Outhalf Cathal Forde, in his first game, found centre Sam Arnold who had the power to race for their first try, and the young outhalf added the penalty.
Five minutes later, however, centre Kyle Steyn profited from an efficient lineout and drive to add Warriors' second, and the pack once again did the business when hooker Fraser Browne claimed their third before the break.
The home side remained in contention with a penalty just before the break, and when Paul Boyle crashed over for a try immediately after the break and Ford converted the sides were level. Both sides exchanged penalties before Boyle's yellow card.
It signalled a tough 20 minutes in which the home side struggled to get out of their half. Tuipulotu took advantage of some wayward kicking to strike a blow in the 63rd minute, Duncan Weir added a penalty, and to rub salt into the wound replacement hooker Jonny Matthews added a sixth try at the whistle on a disappointing night for Connacht, who have much work to ensure they finish in the top eight.
On a night when Tiernan O’Halloran came the fourth Connacht player to reach 200 games, Connacht, despite the changes, failed to play close to their potential.
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).