Pro14: Glasgow 43-17 Connacht: Hosts score six tries in comfortable win
|Glasgow Warriors 43 (24)|
|Tries: Horne, Swinson, Stewart (2), Nairn (2) Cons: Thomson (5) Pen: Thomson|
|Connacht 17 (5)|
|Tries: S Fitzgerald, Boyle, Daly Con: Godwin|
Glasgow Warriors closed to within a point of Conference A leaders Munster in the race for a home semi-final by thumping Connacht at Scotstoun.
Tries from George Horne and Tim Swinson, and braces for Grant Stewart and Robbie Nairn, secured a bonus-point win for Dave Rennie's side.
Connacht came close to a four-try bonus of their own, Stephen Fitzgerald, Paul Boyle and Tom Daly all scoring.
The result moves Warriors 14 points clear of Connacht, who are third.
And Munster's failure to record a bonus point in beating Ospreys means Glasgow edge closer to top spot.
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Horne makes instant impact
Horne was making his first appearance since injuring his shoulder in the Champions Cup defeat by Saracens a month ago, and his impact was instant. Within 45 seconds the diminutive scrum-half was scampering over after running one of his trademark support lines, latching on to Kyle Steyn's pass following the winger's powerful break from deep.
Connacht responded well but were wasteful. The ball went to deck in midfield when some composure would have created a try in the corner, and fly-half Conor Fitzgerald missed a simple penalty. But after Thomson kicked Glasgow 10 clear, the visitors put together a nice move for a simple try for Stephen Fitzgerald.
Centre Daly's pass hit the floor, but as Niko Matawalu charged out for the interception and missed, it bounced into Tiernan O'Halloran's hands to tee up Fitzgerald to touch down. His younger brother Conor then inexplicably missed the conversion, and it stayed a five-point game.
The second quarter though belonged to Glasgow, as their forward pack began to exert pressure. The penalty count mounted, and the field pressure led to Swinson burrowing over, set up by the sniping Horne's dummy and half-break.
And the hosts coasted further clear three minutes before the interval when Stewart fell over the whitewash at the back of a driving maul. Connacht had been warned by referee Ben Whitehouse about their indiscretions, and lock James Cannon was sent to the sin-bin for trying to halt the drive's momentum.
Thomson converted again to give Glasgow a sizeable 19-point lead at the break.
Connacht fight back but fall short
Down to 14 men for the first eight minutes of the half and very much on the back foot, Connacht needed to strike quickly. But within four minutes Stewart scored his second try to secure the bonus point for Glasgow and, seemingly, the game. The hooker ran the final few metres unchallenged after holding the ball at the base of a splintering maul.
But Connacht thought they had hit straight back, only for the try to be ruled out for a knock-on in the build up by hooker Dave Heffernan.
Undeterred they came again, the forwards battering their way towards the Glasgow line. Warriors held out for 17 brutal phases. On the 18th Kyle Godwin found space outside Stafford McDowall, but the young centre recovered to haul him to the deck, and though Godwin stretched desperately for the line, he dropped it, as was confirmed by the TMO.
Connacht's desire to claw their way back into the game was impressive, but they were repeatedly repelled by Glasgow, who were clearly out to put in an improved defensive performance after shipping five tries in the win over Cardiff Blues last time out.
But after a long period of frustration, the Irish side eventually scored through replacement Boyle, who bludgeoned his way over from a few metres. The conversion was missed again, and a knock-on from the restart gifted Glasgow field position. They took full advantage.
Patient build-up ended with replacement Nairn crashing over for his first Glasgow try, after the ball was trucked up by prop Sian Halanukonuka.
Not done there, Daly finished off a superb move as Connacht closed in on a four-try bonus of their own, but Glasgow pressed their foot on the accelerator and eased clear in the closing seven minutes.
Having just added his first for the Warriors, winger Nairn snaffled a second as he gobbled up Ruaridh Jackson's superb cross-field kick to dot down in the corner and round off an impressive victory. The sensational Thomson missed the extras but finished with a 13-point haul nonetheless, as Glasgow secured a vital win in the race for top spot.
'We take nothing for granted' - reaction
Glasgow Warriors head coach Dave Rennie on BBC Radio Scotland: "We take nothing for granted, we know Zebre's a big game for us next week. If we can get that right, there's only about four games left and less chance of one of those teams catching us.
"It's a good day for us, they're a good side and we know we needed to create a bit of distance between us, so job done tonight."
Glasgow: Jackson; Steyn, Kelly, McDowall, Matawalu; Thomson, Horne; Kebble; Stewart, Halanukonuka; Swinson, Cummings; Harley, Fusaro (capt), Ashe.
Replacements: Bryce, Bhatti, Nicol, Fagerson, Gordon, Frisby, Hughes, Nairn.
Connacht: O'Halloran; S Fitzgerald, Godwin, Daly, Healy; C Fitzgerald, Marmion; Buckley, Heffernan, Bealham; Gallagher, Cannon; McKeon, Fainga'a, Butler (capt).
Replacements: Delahunt, McCabe, Carey, Maksymiw, Boyle, Blade, Robb, Kelleher.