Pro12: Connacht 14-7 Glasgow Warriors

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland at The Sportsground in Galway
Glasgow wing Lee Jones takes on the Connacht defence when the two sides met earlier this season
Glasgow had won nine games on the trot but were unable to make it a club record 10th
Connacht (7) 14
Tries: Aki, O'Halloran Cons: MacGinty, O'Leary
Glasgow (0) 7
Try: Reid Con: Russell

Connacht won a battle of attrition against 14-man Glasgow at a raucous Sportsground to secure a home Pro 12 semi-final against the same opponents.

The Irish province led 7-0 at the break courtesy of a converted Bundee Aki try, Glasgow levelling it when Gordon Reid piled over early in the second half.

The champions had Sila Puafisi sent off in the 50th minute for a reckless use of the head in a pivotal moment.

Tiernan O'Halloran then claimed a cross-kick to score the winning try.

Connacht protected their lead thereafter, ensuring Glasgow must now return to their Galway fortress for the semi-final in a fortnight, with Leinster overtaking them both for top spot on the final day.

Never in the history of the Pro12 has an away team won a last-four clash.

Read Saturday's other Pro12 reports affecting the play-off places
Leinster 50-19 Treviso
Munster 31-15 Scarlets
Ospreys 26-46 Ulster

Narrow margins, costly misses

Glasgow began brightly enough, putting Connacht on the back foot and forcing the home team into conceding three penalties in the opening six minutes. Leone Nakarawa, the great orchestrator in Glasgow's second row, was prominent, careering away for two line breaks in the early stages.

It was the kind of day - wet and dank - that was always going to come down to narrow margins. Finn Russell missed a kickable penalty and then missed another midway through the half. The misses were costly because by then Connacht had the lead - a try coming with their first proper visit to the Glasgow 22.

A line-out maul put them in position to strike. Kieran Marmion then linked with AJ MacGinty, who found Aki coming in on a devastating line for the score. MacGinty converted to send the diehards in Connacht's raucous Clan Terrace into delirium.

The hosts were murderously intense in the collisions, battering Glasgow back in the tackle and denying them any chance to launch their offloads to their big runners who can do such damage given the freedom to play.

They didn't have any in that first half, but they found themselves at the start of the second, when Reid got them back in the game.

The visitors turned down a kick at the posts and instead went for the line-out, a decision that reaped a reward when Glasgow stayed patient in possession in Connacht's 22 and Reid barrelled over round the side of a ruck.

Reckless Puafisi 'ruinous' to Glasgow hopes

Russell converted and Glasgow were level. The game then took a dramatic turn when Puafisi was red-carded for a reckless use of the head on Marmion. It was the right call and one that was to prove ruinous to Glasgow.

Now Connacht stepped it up again and retook the lead with a precise cross-field kick from O'Leary - on for MacGinty - that was beautifully plucked out of the air by O'Halloran, who timed his run and leap to perfection ahead of Stuart Hogg. The conversion was good from O'Leary and Connacht had the advantage again.

The longer it went on, the more frenetic it got. Front-row forwards dropped like flies amid the attrition. Connacht ran out of scrummagers and the scrums went uncontested. Then they were contested again and there was a fracas. It was a battle of wills. Ugly and beautiful at the same time.

Connacht attacked and got repealed. Glasgow attacked and met the same fate.

The 14 men tried to pull it out of the fire but Connacht weren't having it. This was not the free-flowing rugby we'd expected, but it was compelling all the same.

Connacht deserved it. In their fortress they once again proved unbeatable.

Connacht: Tiernan O'Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Robbie Henshaw, BundeeAki, Matt Healy; AJ MacGinty, Kieran Marmion; Ronan Loughney, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham; Ultan Dillane, Aly Muldowney; Sean O'Brien, Jake Heenan, John Muldoon (capt).

Replacements: Dave Heffernan (for Loughney, 55), JP Cooney (for Ah You, 51), Rodney Ah You (for Bealham, 2), Quinn Roux (for Dillane, 74), Eoin McKeon (for O'Brien (62), John Cooney (for Marmion (66), Shane O'Leary (for MacGinty, 53), Peter Robb (for Aki, 73).

Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Peter Horne, Lee Jones, Finn Russell, Ali Price, Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, Sila Puafisi, Leone Nakarawa, Jonny Gray (capt), Rob Harley, Ryan Wilson, Josh Strauss.

Replacements: Pat MacArthur (for Brown, 56), Jerry Yanuyanutawa (for Reid, 56), Zander Fagerson (for Harley, 53), Tim Swinson (for Gray, 27-33, for Nakarawa, 77), Simone Favaro (for Wilson, 20-26, 66), Grayson Hart (for Price, 69), Mark Bennett (for Dunbar, 14), Sean Lamont (for Jones, 53).

Sent Off: Puafisi (50).

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales).

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