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Dublin: 3 °C Sunday 24 March, 2019

Connacht dig deep to defeat Glasgow and set up first ever Galway semi-final

Tiarnan O’Halloran scored the match-winning try as Pat Lam’s men finished the regular season with a flourish.

O’Halloran goes over for the match-winning try.
O’Halloran goes over for the match-winning try.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Connacht 14

Glasgow Warriors 7

John Fallon reports from the Sportsground

CONNACHT’S GLORIOUS SEASON continued in the wind and rain at the Sportsground as they ended Glasgow’s nine-match winning run to book home advantage in their first ever semi-final.

Connacht will now welcome the Pro12 champions back to the Sportsground in two weeks as they bid to reach their first ever final in any competition.

And who would bet against Pat Lam’s men going on to lift Connacht’s first trophy in their 131-year history?

Glasgow had the breeze in the opening half but they failed to score in that period as Connacht took a 7-0 lead into the break, much to the joy of the capacity 7,786 crowd.

Gregor Townend’s men dominated the opening 15 minutes but were unable to get through the home defence, with Finn Russell also missing a penalty from 25 metres on the right after six minutes.

Leone Nakarawa led the Warriors challenge on a day when Kieran Marmion and Tiernan O’Halloran both made their 100th appearance for Connacht.

Bundee Aki and Tim Swinson It was an intensely physical game in Galway. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Connacht scored on their first attack after 17 minutes when they Marmion and AJ MacGinty worked the ball after a penalty to touch down the right and Bundee Aki supplied the rest, getting through to score his sixth try of the campaign at the base of the right post.

And with both the President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny cheering on their home province, MacGinty added the extras to make it 7-0 at the break.

Russell missed a second penalty, this time from 25 metres on the left, as Glasgow made little headway against an excellent home defence.

Glasgow got on top after the restart and were rewarded with a penalty to the left corner, with Gordon Reid peeling away to score.

Russell adding the conversion to tie the match at 7-7 apiece after 48 minutes.

But then Connacht countered and Glasgow were reduced to 14 men for the remainder of the game when Tongan prop Sila Puafisi was red-carded for a head-butting Marmion.

Sila Puafisi red carded by referee Ian Davies Sila Puafisi red carded by referee Ian Davies. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The champions held Connacht initially but more ill-discipline proved costly for the Scottish side when skipper Jonny Gray needlessly body-checked when Hogg had plenty of time to clear his lines.

Connacht went for the kill, going to the corner before replacement out-half Shane O’Leary executed a perfect cross-kick which O’Halloran fielded ahead of Hogg to score.

O’Leary added the extras to put them ahead by double scores going into the final quarter and while a draw would have been enough to secure a home semi-final for Glasgow, the champions could not break down the Connacht rearguard as Lam’s men held on for another epic victory in an unforgettable season.

Connacht scorers: Tries: B Aki, T O’Halloran
Conversions: AJ MacGinty, Shane O’Leary.Glasgow Warriors:Try: G Reid
Conversions: F Russell

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki (Peter Robb 74), Matt Healy; AJ MacGinty (Shane O’Leary 52), Kieran Marmion (John Cooney 66); Ronan Loughney (Dave Heffernan 56), Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham (Rodney Ah You 2; JP Cooney 52); Ultan Dillane (Quinn Roux 73), Aly Muldowney; Sean O’Brien (Eoin McKeon 56), Jake Heenan, John Muldoon.

Glasgow: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar (Mark Bennett 13), Peter Horne, Lee Jones (Sean Lamont 55); Finn Russell, Ali Price; Gordon Reid (Jerry Yanuyanutawa 56); Fraser Brown (Pat MacAthur 56), Sila Puafisi; Leone Nakarawa (Swinson 78), Jonny Gray (Tim Swinson 27-24); Rob Harley (Zander Ferguson 55), Ryan Wilson (Simone Favaro 66), Josh Strauss.

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales).

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John Fallon

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