GLASGOW Warriors warmed up for a Pro12 semi-final against Leinster as tries from DTH Van Der Merwe and Sean Maitland gave them their first away win since February.
Scorers: Connacht– Pens: Parks. Glasgow–Tries: Van der Merwe, Maitland. Cons: Jackson, Hogg. Pens: Jackson, Hogg.
Van Der Merwe became Warriors’ all-time leading try scorer with his 16th-minute effort as Gregor Townsend’s side wrapped up the win late on after the introduction of Niko Matawalu, Stuart Hogg and Maitland.
Interestingly, Hogg took on the kicking duties after replacing Ruaridh Jackson and slotted two sweet kicks late on to clinch the victory.
With a place in the semi-final play-offs already secured, Gregor Townsend was able to leave a few of his star men on the sidelines.
Three of the Pro12 team of the year were named among the replacements – Niko Matawalu, Ryan Grant and Stuart Hogg – while Al Kellock was given a well-earned rest after his wife gave birth during the week.
Another notable change saw Ruaridh Jackson slot into the No 10 shirt in place of the unlucky Duncan Weir, who broke his leg in Warriors victory against Ospreys at Scotstoun last time out.
It was a very special night for Connacht flanker Johnny O’Connor, who had the pleasure of leading out the side in his final game in the green shirt.
The game was played a ferocious pace from the off but, once the heat was turned up at the breakdown, Glasgow began to gain the upper hand, and they took the lead after 12 minutes when Jackson landed a tricky drop goal attempt from the ten-metre line.
Four minutes later, DTH Van Der Merwe powered past the tackle of Dan Parks after Sean Lamont made ground down the blind side. Jackson stretched the lead to 10-0 with a splendid conversion from the left touchline, but, midway through the opening half, their early charge was slowed when tight-head prop Jon Welsh was sin-binned on the advice of George Clancy’s touch judge.
Warriors restored their full complement without conceding a point, but the home side did manage to get off the mark a minute before half-time when Parks slotted a penalty.
Jackson almost put the result beyond any doubt on the hour mark when he almost intercepted a Parks’ pass on the half-way line but, despite their first-half dominance, they failed to pull away from the determined home side.
Townsend sprung Matawalu, Hogg and Maitland from the bench in the last quarter to try and make sure of the win and, 15 minutes from time, Hogg was given the chance to get some kicking practice ahead of the Lions tour and made no mistake with his first effort to stretch Glasgow’s lead to 13-3.
And, ten minutes from time Matawalu and Maitland combined as the winger celebrated his Lions call up with a great try in the right corner, which Hogg converted to clinch the victory.
Connacht: G Duffy; D Poolman, E Griffin, B Murphy, F Vainikolo; D Parks, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, E Reynecke, R Loughney; M Swift, M McCarthy; A Browne, J O’Connor, E McKeon. Subs: R Ah You (for Wilkinson 41), J Muldoon (for McKeon 48), JP Cooney (for Loughney 51-55 blood) (for Loughney 66), M Kearney (for O’Connor 51), A Flavin (for E Reynecke 55), P O’Donohoe (for Marmion 62), M Fifita (for Browne 66), M Nikora (for O’Halloran 73).
Glasgow: P Murchie; T Seymour, S Lamont, P Horne, DTH Van Der Merwe; R Jackson, H Pyrgos; M Low, P McArthur, J Welsh; T Swinson, T Ryder; R Harley, J Barclay, R Wilson. Subs: E Kalman (for Harley 24-33) (for Welsh 51), D Hall (for McArthur 51). R Grant (for Low 51), J Strauss (for Harley 55), McArthur (for Hall 57), N Matawalu (for Prygos 63), S Maitland (for Seymour 63), S Hogg (for Jackson 63), J Eddie (for Swinson 71).