Connacht battled past Glasgow Warriors in a tense affair at the Sportsground to earn a home Guinness PRO12 semi-final and a rematch against the reigning champions.

Glasgow started strong but Bundee Aki’s try, converted by AJ MacGinty, gave Connacht a 7 – 0 lead going into half-time.

A score from Glasgow’s Gordon Reid levelled things up early in the second half but a red card for his team mate Sila Puafisi made the job more difficult for the visitors and a try from Tiernan O’Halloran, on his 100th appearance for the province, ensured the win for Pat Lam’s men.

Finn Russell missed the opportunity to give Warriors an early lead after missing a second-minute penalty following a trademark break from the departing Leone Nakarawa.

Prop Finlay Bealham went off injured a minute later, to be replaced by Rodney Ah You.

Russell’s kicking was off target again after five minutes as he misjudged the wind and sent a kick for touch over the goal-line and the visitors lost an opportunity to apply some pressure in Connacht territory.

Another Warriors chance went begging in the 12th minute as Nakarawa bulldozed through the home side’s defence again but his offload was spilled by Gordon Reid inside the Connacht 22.

Alex Dunbar then went off with a knee injury after 13 minutes, with Mark Bennett replacing him in the Warriors mid-field.

After the Glasgow pressure Connacht hit back with the opening score in the 18th minute, Aki reaching over the line after an offload from AJ MacGinty following a lineout drive, the American fly-half knocking over the extras.

Russell again missed the chance to get his side on the board five minutes later, pushing another penalty wide of the upright.

In tricky conditions the home side dominated the remainder of the half but neither side could find another score and they went in at the break with Connacht up by seven.

Glasgow levelled things up eight minutes into the second half though as Reid crossed the whitewash after a pick and go, with Finn adding the conversion.

They made life harder for themselves a minute later though as prop Puafisi was shown a red card for serious foul play in a ruck.

Warriors’ skipper Jonny Gray was penalised for blocking an on-running kick defender ten minutes later but rather than taking aim at the posts Connacht went for touch.

From the resulting phase of play a cross-field kick from substitute Shane O’Leary was collected by O’Halloran to touch down over the line and O’Leary added the extras to give Connacht a seven-point lead.

Glasgow pushed for the win in the closing 20 minutes but, despite injuries to the Connacht front row leading to uncontested scrums, Warriors could not do enough and when they spilled the ball in the home side’s 22 with three minutes to go, the game was up.


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