GLASGOW coach Sean Lineen admitted going through a cocktail of emotions after watching his side’s rollercoaster display in Galway. However he insisted the omens are positive as he bids to guide the Warriors to a place in the Pro12 play-off phase.
Lineen said: “The last time we drew over here we finished in the top four – so maybe the signs are good for us.”
It could have been so much better for the visitors, who were pegged back by the last kick of a desperately disjointed contest. And whistle-happy referee Peter Allan ought to accept a large portion of blame for the lack of fluid rugby.
He certainly did not dispel the widely held belief that Scottish officials sometimes appear to bend over backwards in an effort to show they do not give the benefit of 50-50 verdicts to Scottish teams.
Lineen added: “It was a game we should have won. Once again, the effort and intensity were first class, but we made some poor decisions at crucial times – silly things that ultimately cost us two big points. We need to learn to play with better discipline and better smartness.
“We’re showing fantastic defence and commitment, but if we are going to reach the play-offs we need to be better. We are still in control of our own destiny, but this makes it that little bit harder. Our belief is high, but we need to transfer that on to the paddock in terms of patience and maturity.
“The team effort is outstanding, but there are key individuals who need to learn and we will do that.”
The Warriors had indeed been on course to claim their first win in the west of Ireland for half a decade, thanks to a penalty by substitute Duncan Weir. But Connacht snatched a share of the spoils thanks to their last in a series of questionable penalty awards.
The opening exchanges were jittery and disjointed, with both sides making mistakes galore. But, after soaking up heavy pressure, Glasgow created their first potent attack thanks to a superb chip by David Lemi. And they almost cashed in from close range when Tommy Seymour charged down a home clearance kick.
Warriors kept up the momentum with Seymour almost going over in the wake of a perfectly weighted Henry Pyrgos lob.
Connacht broke back upfield and the visitors enjoyed a let-off when Niall O’Connor was short with his second pot at goal of the evening. Then came the moment the Glasgow fans were craving as prop Jon Welsh ploughed over to claim the lead.
The pack kept their patience in the shadow of the posts and, when a half-gap opened up, Welsh hurtled ten metres to the line, giving Ruaridh Jackson a simple conversion.
The home troops rallied in the build-up to the break and O’Connor repaired some of the damage with a stoppage-time penalty. His strike was a confidence boost for the province and they took control in terms of possession and territory after the restart. But gradually the Warriors got back into the contest and Jackson was handed a penalty chance 40 metres out, which he thumped over from a tricky angle to restore the advantage.
Glasgow then suffered a series of major setbacks as the contest was burst wide open. First up, Seymour was yellow carded for deliberate offside, then winger Tiernan O’Halloran slithered over for a Connacht try after latching on to a cross kick from O’Connor, who followed up with the levelling conversion.
But Weir eased the nerves with his pinpoint strike – only for O’Connor to equalise again ten seconds from time.