Connacht fail to give O'Connor win in final game

Connacht 3 Glasgow Warriors 20

Connacht fail to give O'Connor win in final game

Connacht 3 Glasgow Warriors 20

Connacht have failed to provide a winning send-off for departing head coach Eric Elwood with the match also marking the final outings for the province of Johnny O’Connor, Adrian Flavin and the Leinster-bound Mike McCarthy.

On a windy night in the west of Ireland, Glasgow Warriors missed out on a home semi-final in the RaboDirect PRO12, but tries from DTH van der Merwe and British and Irish Lions call-up Sean Maitland did see the Scottish side advance to the play-offs on the back of a 17-point win.

However, a Ruaridh Jackson penalty was added by a Van der Merwe try as the visitors established a 10-3 half-time advantage with Dan Parks nailing a late penalty for Connacht.

Elwood’s charges battled bravely on the restart with the wind at their backs, but the benefit of a strong replacements bench was vital for Glasgow as five points from the boot of another Lion Stuart Hogg, allied to Maitland’s 70th-minute effort, eased them over the line.

The game was only two minutes old when a Parks penalty drifted past the right hand post.

It was a let-off for the Warriors who edged ahead in the 12th minute thanks to a superb drop goal from distance by Jackson, which nipped in off a post.

Glasgow increased their cushion to 10 points barely four minutes later when Canadian international Van der Merwe drove over powerfully on the left flank for a try that was expertly converted by Jackson.

Despite keeping 2013 Lions duo Hogg and Maitland in reserve, the Scottish outfit were well on top in the opening period.

Connacht struggled for long periods of the opening half, although Parks’ successful 39th-minute penalty meant that they were only seven points in arrears at the interval.

Jackson did have a chance to restore Glasgow’s 10-point advantage in the opening minutes of the second half, but like Parks’ early shot he was unable to negotiate the wind successfully from a tricky position.

For a while after this opportunity the game entered a lull, although the passionate home support were brought to their feet when the retiring O’Connor departed the scene after producing an excellent 51-minute shift.

He is joined in hanging up his boots by replacement hooker Flavin, who was one of a number of players introduced from the bench as Connacht aimed to turn the screw.

The westerners applied some serious pressure just shy of the hour mark, but the Warriors rode this particular storm and the eventual introduction of Hogg and Maitland galvanised their challenge.

Hogg operated at out-half upon his arrival – a position Lions head coach Warren Gatland spoke about utilising him in during the tour to Australia.

He helped to reinforce his side’s superiority with a 66th-minute penalty, before adding the extras to Maitland’s terrific individual score just four minutes later.

They continued to press in the Connacht 22 in the closing stages and though they failed to add to their total, the Warriors will nevertheless be satisfied with their performance.

Gregor Townsend’s men will be back on Irish soil next weekend for a semi-final clash with Leinster at the RDS.

The same two sides met at this stage in Dublin 12 months ago with Leinster edging it 19-15.

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