Pro14: Connacht 26-27 Glasgow
|Pro14: Connacht 26-27 Glasgow|
|Connacht 26 (23)|
|Tries: Kelleher, Bealham Cons: Carty (2) Pens: Carty (4)|
|Glasgow 27 (17)|
|Tries: Seymour, G Turner, Wilson, Ashe Cons: P Horne, Hogg Pens: 0 Drop Goal: Hogg|
Stuart Hogg's late drop-goal gave Glasgow a bonus-point win over Connacht in their opening game of the PRO14.
Despite tries from Tommy Seymour, George Turner and Ryan Wilson, Warriors trailed 26-17 with 20 minutes left and had Adam Hastings in the sin-bin.
A late Adam Ashe try and those three points from Hogg's boot rescued Glasgow on a day when ill-discipline and raggedness threatened to undermine them.
Even allowing for Glasgow's spirited comeback, Connacht could still have won it in the last second when Craig Ronaldson hit a post from a long-range penalty.
The points started to flow early and barely stopped flowing all day. There was a reason for that. Daft penalties conceded, soft defence, passive stuff on both sides in an opening half that brought score after score.
Inside two minutes Glasgow had the lead when Hogg and his new billiard ball haircut put a precise kick into the Connacht 22 and Seymour won the foot-race to score.
Pete Horne missed the conversion and when Jack Carty made it 5-3 we had our tempo set for the day. One team would score, then concede. The other would score, then concede. It was hard not to. Both defences weren't up to much in that opening half.
Carty's cross-kick to his wing Cian Kelleher put Connacht in front, then Turner whipped down the blindside of a ruck and ran through a gap to wrestle the lead back again.
Four minutes later, things changed again when Glasgow's defence lost any semblance of shape and Finlay Bealham, the tight-head, trundled over.
The conversion from Carty made it 17-12 but, naturally, that didn't last long. Glasgow put some phases together and got themselves inside Connacht's 22 and started to apply serious pressure in a series of five-metre scrums. Penalty followed penalty and the stress of it opened up the space for Wilson to go over. Pete Horne missed the extras and we were level at 17-17.
Glasgow's soft penalty count started to get on top of them at that point. Before the break their ill-discipline cost them six points from Carty's boot - the visitors shipped nine penalties in the opening half - and they gave Carty another chance early in the second half that the fly-half lashed over.
Connacht had a 26-17 advantage and had a one-man advantage into the bargain when Hastings was binned for a high tackle. Glasgow looked in terrible danger of conceding again but they lifted the siege and even though down on numbers, they kicked on into the guts of this Connacht team.
Fraser Brown, on for Turner, won a penalty and Hogg boomed it half the length of the west of Ireland to give Glasgow an attacking line-out five metres out. One rumble later, Ashe touched down and, with Pete Horne off the pitch, Hogg converted to make it 26-24. It was Glasgow's fourth try. On a day when their discipline was lousy, a bonus point, at the very least, was theirs.
The 14 men went again, worked through 28 phases but got no change out of a terrific Connacht defence. Glasgow wouldn't lie down, though. With six minutes, and Hastings now back in play, Hogg dropped a goal to put the visitors into a 27-26 lead. Glasgow needed somebody to step up and Hogg was one of the first to do it.
The end-game was dramatic and ridiculous. Having shown huge steel to get themselves back in front, Glasgow went to jelly again. Hastings kicked loosely to add pressure, then they lost a line-out and Ronaldson had a drop-goal from half a mile out that fell short.
There was one more act. Connacht steamed downfield and won the penalty they were looking for. Ronaldson, again from long-range, hit the post. That was the end of it. Glasgow, for all their flaws, left town with five gorgeous points.
Connacht: O'Halloran; Kelleher, Godwin, Farrell, Healy; Carty, Blade; Buckley, Heffernan, Bealham, Dillane, Cannon, Boyle, Butler, McKeon.
Replacements: Delahunt, McCabe, Carey, Roux, Gallagher, Mitchell, Ronaldson, Adeolokun.
Glasgow: Hogg; Seymour, Grigg, P Horne, Van der Merwe; Hastings, G Horne; Kebble, Turner, Fagerson, Cummings, Gray, Harley, Gibbins, Wilson.
Replacements: Brown, Allan, Rae, Ashe, Fusaro, Frisby, Dunbar, Matawalu.