By Eve McTiernan
Well, the game was an interesting one to say the least.
Six tries from Danny Wilson’s side saw Glasgow Warriors rejuvenated, after crashing out the Champions Cup last week to beat hosts Connacht 42-20 at The Sportsground.
It was a strong start with Rufus McLean darting over the whitewash for his first try of the day in the opening 2 minutes. However, the Warriors’ lead was only five points, as Duncan Weir’s kick was wide of the posts.
A breathless pace was set by both teams with both Glasgow wingers looking alive. The visitors then found themselves a man down, as Richie Gray was sent to the bin after an illegal clearout at the breakdown 8 minutes in.
The home side used this to their advantage and on the 12-minute mark Sam Arnold dove over the line and Cathal Forde’s successful conversion gave the hosts the lead. However, this didn’t last long.
A fully restored Glasgow side struck back just seven minutes later. After a powerful maul on the 15-metre line, dynamic duo Tuipulotu and Steyn teamed up. Tuipulotu drew in the defence to pop birthday boy Kyle Steyn through the gap and over the line. Weir converted for a 12-7 lead.
Young Ollie Smith proved the visitors were wanting to play with some pace as his line break added a sense of urgency when it fell short. The Warriors were able to finally strike once more before the break with co-captain Fraser brown diving over from the back of the maul. Once again, the conversion from Weir was wide. However, Connacht had the last word in the first half with Forde successfully kicking a penalty from 30 metres out to bring the hosts within seven at half time.
The home side opened the scoring in the second half in the 44th minute. Paul Boyle picks and goes from close range and Forde brings the scores level. Duncan Weir manages a successful kick to give the visiting side the lead once more. The lead didn’t last long unfortunately as the home side equalise with a penalty in the 51stminute.
Unphased by this, Glasgow went hunting for the bonus point. Horne sent Sebastian Cancelliere clear into Connacht territory with only a slap down from Boyle stopping the Glasgow side from scoring. Referee Nic Berry saw this as enough and sent Boyle to the bin.
Taking advantage just like the hosts did, Warriors were able to send unstoppable Rufus McLean over for his second try of the day after multiple phases of pressure. The loop pass over the top was enough for McLean to do what he does best. Weir’s unfortunate pattern continued and there would be no extra points…
However, the Warriors weren’t finished yet. A scrappy clearing kick from the hosts let young replacement scrum half, Jamie Dobie to pass out to Tuipulotu on halfway, who in turn teamed up with his fellow centre Kyle Steyn to send the birthday boy over once again. Weir managed to convert this one making it 20-32 to the visiting side. A perfect 50-22 from young Ollie Smith pinned the Irish side in their own half and a penalty came Glasgow’s way, allowing Weir to extend the lead to 15 points.
As if that wasn’t enough for Danny Wilson’s side, they had the last word of the game. Gray more than making up for his yellow card with a lineout steal that allowed Smith to kick the ball in behind the defence giving way for Steyn and Stafford McDowall to send Oran McNulty into touch five metres out from his own line. From the lineout, Johnny Matthews could not be denied from the back of an unstoppable maul. With the six tries and one final conversion from Weir, the fulltime score was 20-42.
Overall, not a bad day at the office for the Scottish side. However, questions have been raised. Three missed kicks from “experienced” Duncan Weir and still no sign of Thompson coming off the bench? Was this really the right call? What is going on in Danny Wilson’s head? Could Thompson’s absence mean he could be in line for a Scotland call? After his last two performances, Ollie Smith really is proving himself as a reliable fullback choice for Glasgow. Let’s hope we see a lot more of him!