They needed some sort of reaction after last weekend’s no-show and, to Dave Rennie’s relief, his Warriors produced one of their more compelling performances of the season to see off Connacht and claim the top spot in Conference A and the home semi-final that comes with it.
The visitors scored first but the home side reacted with control, energy and better accuracy than of late, although there is still work to be done. Glasgow were 30-8 ahead at half-time and finished with four tries and a bonus point in their pocket.
Connacht are not the force of old so Rennie won’t celebrate too hard but his side can only beat the team they face. Some of the old faults were on show – Glasgow conceded one try to a driving maul, man-of-the-match Peter Horne missed a sitter for the second week in succession, and discipline was poor with two yellows in the second half – but, overall, it was still miles better than last weekend.
Glasgow kept hold of the ball for long periods, they looked threatening and they defended like they meant it. Horne looked comfortable at ten, although that says as much about Connacht’s line speed as anything else, and Alex Dunbar, who has struggled for months with a hamstring, looked like he’d never been away. The centre collected one try and one impressive turnover in the first half.
Glasgow started this game as they finished the last one – badly. Connacht kicked off and the home side were pinged attempting to run the ball out of their red zone.
The Irishmen went to the sidelines and prop Finlay Bealham was last up after the visitors drove Glasgow back over their own line.
The home side’s response was immediate. DTH van der Merwe came off his wing to find a hole in the middle of the field and one pass was enough to send Stuart Hogg over the line. Horne’s conversion and a couple of subsequent penalty kicks gave Glasgow an early eight-point lead.
Glasgow continued to probe and find holes in Connacht’s midfield. This time, Sam Johnson cut an arching run past several Irish defenders who had grown roots. The centre had options and perhaps he took the wrong one because Henry Pyrgos inside him was well marked and Glasgow had to make do with another three points from Horne’s boot.
Connacht kicked a penalty but the visitors’ midfield woes continued because Dunbar was the next one to scamper through the 10/12 channel untouched and he won the foot race to the line for Glasgow’s second try.
There was still time for a third on the stroke of half-time as the Glasgow forwards rolled up their sleeves and bullied their way to the whitewash, Fraser Brown the try scorer.
The second half had barely started when Henry Pyrgos grabbed the bonus point try, the best of the evening by a distance. The move started well inside the Glasgow 22, Niko Matawalu (on for DTH) was involved twice before a back flip from Dunbar and an eye-popping burst of pace from Matt Fagerson sent the scrum-half haring towards the Connacht line. One defender shepherded Pyrgos into the upright where he had the good sense to ground the ball.
Connacht exerted pressure through a series of five-metre scrums and Alex Allan saw yellow but Glasgow cleared their lines.
The visitors had the last say with one try for Caolin Blade and another penalty try from an attacking set scrum, with Glasgow short-handed on both occasions.