Gregor Townsend had Duncan Weir’s boot to thank as Warriors jumped back into second place in the Pro12 standings after a battle in the Sportsground.
On a night when goal kicking was a lottery, Weir continually hit the jackpot, while the Connacht kickers were left holding losing dockets.
Former Warrior Dan Parks landed two penalties for Connacht, but missed another three, while replacement Craig Ronaldson only fared slightly better in howling wind and pelting rain. But DTH van der Merwe’s sixth-minute try set Warriors on the road to a sixth win of the campaign and got them back to winning ways, which thrilled Weir ahead of the three-week break.
“We were bitterly disappointed with the Munster result,” he said. “It was such a close game that you take that kind of defeat a bit more to heart. To see when it’s still in your grasp and you’ve played good rugby and you’ve quick-tapped a possible nine points, and you lose by seven, so it was going to be a kick in the teeth at the full-time whistle.
“But we learned from that. Munster really grinded out the win and we learned from that last week and managed to put it right tonight as well.
“It’s always tough to come over here with the conditions. We got here on Friday and we were hoping the game was on then with the still, calm evening and the sun was shining. It was nice to see, but unfortunately it didn’t carry into today.
“It was about managing the game well and making sure your team played smartly and especially playing in the right areas as well,” added Weir, who joins up with his Scottish colleagues this morning ahead of their clash with Japan on Saturday.
After the match, the Warriors coach beamed to see another four points on their tally. After losing out on home soil last week, he was thrilled to take a battling win.
“We said when we’d won our first five games that it was a long way until the end of the season and one defeat doesn’t knock you out of contention. There are four or five teams quite close at the top of the league, but with a three-week break for internationals it was great to get that win.”
But aside from the win, there were plenty of positives for Townsend to mull over for the next three weeks. Fresh from his citing and subsequent clearing, Niko Matawalu looked sharp as ever playing at full-back for his club for the first time. While his plays were fewer in number than with the No 9 on his back, he consistently proved an elusive runner for the Connacht defence and looked solid under the dropping ball.
Weir and Chris Cusiter combined well at half-back, but the copious amounts of go-forward ball supplied by the pack – led by the terrific Josh Strauss and Jonny Gray – left their job all the easier.
But for the home side there is plenty to be concerned with. It is eight years since Connacht had as bad a start to their league season as this. One win from their seven opening games – against Zebre on the first day of the season – is hardly the start to his Connacht tenure that Pat Lam wanted, but facing a three-week break, the coach says he is not worried to see his side propping up the table.
“I’m not concerned,” he said. “I’d be concerned if we were being smashed by these teams. I’d be concerned if we were getting a hiding with no chance and no opportunities. I’d be concerned if we had a full squad getting done by 20 or 30 points every game and we had no chance of winning games; that’s when I’d be concerned.
“We’ve run teams close, had chances and we haven’t quite nailed them. But there is a long way to go.”
Playing into the gale, Connacht trailed by 13-3 at half-time, but if they had taken their chances greater reward would have been theirs. Instead it was Weir who sealed the win in the final minute with his fifth successful kick. A fitting finale to a stellar showing by the fly-half.