Warriors battle to victory over defiant Connacht'
PRO14 MATH REPORT: Dave Rennie got his reign as Glasgow Warriors boss off to an impressive start, with a hard-fought victory over 2016 title winners Connacht on the west coast of Ireland.
With both sides heading into the season curtain-raiser with new head coaches and overhauled playing squads the first half was a tense affair, with Ali Price’s penalty being bettered by three from Connacht’s Jack Carty.
The match exploded into life in the second half with a superb try from Price that tore the hosts’ determined defence apart.
The Irish province responded with another penalty from Carty before Price’s kick to the corner resulted in Warriors winger Lee Jones securing the victory.
With the players enduring the pre-season the pent-up aggression was on display just two minutes in, with a bout of fisticuffs resulting in a penalty to Connacht which Carty duly converted.
The Galway winds raked across the Sportsground and the effect was all to evident early on when Peter Horne’s penalty was forced back from the posts by a strong gust – the wind seemingly Connacht’s 16th man.
Glasgow were hampered further when they lost Sam Johnson to injury early on, with Adam Hastings, a summer signing from Bath, on at fly-half to replace him with Horne moving to centre.
With the wind and rain pounding down both sides looked to keep things tight with the forwards enjoying conditions perfect for a physical game of rugby.
The home side were awarded another penalty 20 minutes in, with Carty again adding the three points before both scrum’s exchanged penalties in the arm-wrestle.
Warriors prop Oli Kebble, signed from the Stormers, came on for his debut but his first action was to give away a penalty – and with the last action of the half Carty sent over his third kick to leave the score 9-3 at the break.
The Scotstoun side have lost just once on the opening day since 2012 and came out for the second half with renewed energy, buoyed by the gales now blowing in their direction.
Kieran Keane’s side defended resolutely though and were able to withstand a try but not a penalty, as Price kicked a three-pointer after a sustained period of pressure.
The 2015 title-winners weren’t done there though and scored a brilliant opening try from a scrum, with Horne running a scything line off Hastings and putting Price in under the posts.
In the 58th minute Dave Rennie’s side were dealt a double blow as they conceded a penalty resulting from a thumping tackle from substitute Thomas Farrell, and new recruit Hastings being stretchered off injured.
Carty edged the scores closer at 12-13 but in the 71st minute Price prodded a deft kick into the corner which was collected by substitute Leonardo Sarto who offloaded to Jones to touch-down in the corner.
Pens: Carty 4
For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: Jines, Price
Pens: Horne 2
Connacht: 15 Darragh Leader, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Eoghan Masterson, 5 James Cannon, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Peter McCabe, 18 Conor Carey, 19 Sean O'Brien, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Conor McKeon, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Tom Farrell.
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Peter Horne, 9 Ali Price, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Matt Smith, 6 Ryan Wilson (captain), 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Jamie Bhatti.
Replacements: 16 James Malcolm, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Adam Nicol, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 Matt Fagerson, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Leonardo Sarto.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Dan Jones (Wales), Stuart Gaffikin (Ireland)
TMO: Peter Ferguson (Ireland)