Glasgow 27 - 17 Connacht: Bonus-point victory gives Townsend home comfort
GLASGOW got their first home win of the season at the second time of asking after beating a typically spirited Connacht side at Scotstoun last night and picking up a bonus point in the process.
Glasgow – Tries: Lamont, Murchie, Van der Merwe (2). Cons: Wight (2). Pen: Wight.
Connacht – Tries: McCrea, White. Cons: Jarvis (2). Pen: Jarvis.
Referee: A Rolland (Ire)
The result put a smile on Gregor Townsend’s face but the manner of it was a little less than convincing as the home side were leading by just one score deep inside the final quarter after Glasgow allowed their visitors to claw their way back into a game that should have been dead and buried by half time.
It took a try from flying winger DTH Van Der Merwe, his second of the night, eight minutes from time to make this match safe for the home team after full-back Peter Murchie put him away, the move neatly rounding off two commanding performances from both players. The winger deserved his man of the match award having scoring a brace of tries in the last two games.
In fairness to the home side, Connacht have caused them plenty of problems in the past and they were forced to field a relatively inexperienced half back pairing of Henry Pyrgos and Scott Wight after the main men were both sidelined by injury.
Tim Swinson made his competitive Glasgow debut in the second row and Ruaridh Jackson was able to bury some ghosts, making an appearance on the hour mark and looking infinitely more assured than he had last time out against the Scarlets.
It was a night when Prygos needed to fill big boots and the former Loughborough University nine made a very decent fist of things. One early pass sailed over his fly-half’s head but, that apart, Prygos was tidy in attack and determined in defence, doing well to clear up one early Connacht kick. His breaking from the base also kept the opposition defence honest, even if he didn’t make much ground.
Outside him, Wight was deputising for Weir. The Melrose man also stepped up to the plate with a controlled display of tactical kicking that put his side in the driving seat and kept them there for the majority of this match. One kick went directly into the Glasgow night sky and came down in almost the exact same place, leading to three points to the visitors, but that was an exception to the rule because two of Glasgow’s tries came directly from Wight’s aerial bombardment and there could have been more.
An early penalty in the first minute of the match gave the him and his team a boost and Glasgow were never headed thereafter. With a rain shower just before kick off making handling tricky, Wight’s tactic of hoofing the ball skywards at every opportunity wasn’t a bad one and it led indirectly to the first try of the evening after 15 minutes.
Awarded a free kick at a scrum, Wight sent the ball soaring into the floodlights, one and then two Connacht defenders made a compete mess of securing the greasy pill as Glasgow swarmed in attack, pouncing on the loose ball with Alex Dunbar making the all important pass to Sean Lamont who crossed in the right corner. If the high ball tactic wasn’t aimed at entertainment, Glasgow showed they could put on a decent show when the mood takes them. Peter Horne threw the long miss-pass that opened the defence, Lamont flipped the ball out of the back of his hand to Peter Murchie and the full-back took off like a scalded cat.
Ignoring the support on his inside, Murchie gunned it up the right flank before cutting inside to beat the last man in a superb finish. Wight added the extras and Glasgow were 15-0 to the good inside 30 minutes.
Having done the hard work, Glasgow then took their foot off the gas and allowed the visitors back into the match. Connacht had their moments, and one of them led to a try for Mark McCrea after the winger was first to react to a simple grubber from his fly-half that bisected the posts.
The visitors then split Glasgow’s new-look ten/twelve combo, built more for attack then defence, and the home team was only saved from further embarrassment by the covering tackle of Alex Dunbar.
Glasgow emerged for the second 40 sporting white jerseys rather than the blue they sported at the start of the match, which very obviously clashed with Connacht’s blue and white strip as the second-half started with a flurry of scoring.
It was started by DTH Van der Merwe when the South African winger picked up another Connacht spill from another Wight high ball to dive theatrically over the line. Then Connacht scored directly from the kick-off which Glasgow failed to secure.
And that was that until the same man struck for a second time inside the final ten minutes to send the supporters home happy and his coach too.
Glasgow: Murchie; Lamont, Dunbar, Horne (Nathan 72 min), Van Der Merwe; Wight (Jackson 60 min), Prygos; Grant (Reid 70 min), Hall (Gillies 60 min), Low (Cusak 70 min), Swinson, Kellock, Eddie (MacDonald 60 min), Barclay, Wilson.
Connacht: Duffy (Carty 24 min); Loxton, Henshaw, McSharry, McCrea, Jarvis, Marmion (Moore 67 min); Wilkinson (Buckley 60 min), Flavin, White, Naoupu, Gannon, O’Connor (Fifita 60 min), Faloon, McKeon.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
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