By John O’Sullivan
 
Connacht began their 2020/2021 Guinness PRO14 campaign with a 28-24 win over Glasgow
Warriors at the Sportsground.

 
Two tries from Bundee Aki, a try from Quinn Roux and thirteen points from the boot of Jack
Carty accounted for the Westerners points in a hugely physical affair.
 
Glasgow, meanwhile, through Nick Grigg, Huw Jones and Tommy Seymour added three tries of
their own, but the steely defence and attacking efficiency of the hosts saw them claim a
deserved win.
 
Buoyed on by the 200 socially distanced fans in the Sportsground, Connacht started brightly
and opened the scoring when strong defence from Tom Farrell — which would become a
recurring feature — won a penalty in the Glasgow 22. Carty, showing all the calm in the world,
slotted the kick for Andy Friend’s men’s first points of the season.
 
The visitors reacted well to the concession of the penalty and piled the pressure on Connacht,
but — despite their best efforts, with Hasting prominent in attack — the hosts held firm to deny
them a score in a physically ferocious opening half hour.
 
However, the Scotsmen — who enjoyed a man advantage for ten minutes after Roux was sin
binned — eventually made their pressure count on the stroke of half time. Hastings deft offload
found Grigg’s arching angled run and the centre skipped over for a try. Hastings added the
extras and Glasgow went into the break 7-3 to the good.
 
The visitors started the second period in a similar vein and extended their lead further when
Hastings made no mistake off the tee to take the score to 10-3.
 
Connacht grew into the game thereafter and a beautifully worked move saw them opening their
try scoring account for the season in the most brilliant of fashion.
 
An acrobatic offload close to the line from Peter Sullivan kept the move alive and, after a few
phases, Farrell broke through a would be tackle to feed Aki an offload and the Irish international
powered his way over from short range. Carty slotted the conversion to level things up at 10-10.
 
With the wind in their sails, the Westerners — with Alex Wootton and Aki central to their
attacking plans — continued to probe and their persistence was rewarded when Roux, after
collecting a Kieran Marmion pass, smashed his way over for a try. Once again, Carty was
successful with the boot and Connacht found themselves in a deserved 17-10 lead.
 
The game was beginning to have a tit for tat flow and Glasgow were next to cross the white
wash when Scottish international full-back Huw Jones’s sharp line saw him touch down for a try
that Hastings converted to tie the scoreline at 17-17.
 
The lead would change hands once again when Carty, benefitting from a Glasgow offside,
bisected the posts with an excellently struck penalty to set up a gripping final 15 minutes with
Connacht leading 20-17.
 
Defensively, the Westerners back-three were solid throughout but didn’t have much opportunity
to stretch their legs and express themselves in attack. John Porch, however, on a rare foray
forward, started a brilliant move that resulted in Aki dotting down for a try.
 
The former Australian Sevens player fielded a long kick and showed his pace by flying up the
pitch and offloading accurately to Wootton. The winger exploded into space and his clever kick
through was chased by Aki, who — showing a brilliant turn of speed — picked up to go over for
the try. The conversion was narrowly wide, but the try set up a tense finale at 25-17 to the home
team.
 
Glasgow, who Connacht were winless against in their previous six games, responded strongly
and they made it a one point game with their third try. Seymour, the 2017 British and Irish Lions
tourist, showed strong footwork to dive over in the right corner for a try that Hastings converted
to take the score to 25-24.
 
Deservingly, Carty — whose intelligent territorial kicking and accurate place kicking were key
throughout for the hosts — had the final say when he drilled a long range penalty between the
posts to seal Connacht’s win and start their season off on a winning start, 28-24.
 
Connacht team(15-9)
15: John Porch
14: Peter Sullivan
13: Tom Farrell
12: Bundee Aki
11: Alex Wootton
10: Jack Carty
9: Kieran Marmion
(8-1)
8: Paul Boyle
7: Conor Oliver
6: Jarrad Butler(C)
5: Quinn Roux
4: Gavin Thornbury
3: Finlay Bealham
2: Dave Heffernan
1: Denis Buckley
Replacements; Blade for Marmion, Duggan for Buckley, Aungier for Bealham, Murray for
Thornbury, Masterson for Oliver, Arnold for Aki.

Andy Friend has named his squad for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 season opener against the Glasgow Warriors, with Jarrad Butler leading out the side from blindside flanker.
 
Butler begins his third season as Connacht captain having joined in 2017, and he starts in the number 6 position with Conor Oliver earning a start at openside after an impressive pre-season campaign. Paul Boyle completes the back row at number 8.
 
There’s an experienced look to the front row with Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham all named, while Gavin Thornbury and Quinn make up the rest of the pack in the second row.
 
Friend has named the same backline that put in a brilliant attacking display against Ulster at the Aviva Stadium, with Irish international trio Kieran Marmion, Jack Carty and Bundee Aki forming the 9-10-12 axis.
 
Tom Farrell partners Aki in the centre, while John Porch continues at full-back with Alex Wootton and Peter Sullivan on the wings.
 
200 spectators will be in attendance at The Sportsground – including previous season ticket holders – in what will be the first Guinness PRO14 game at The Sportsground in over seven months.
 
Commenting on his team selection, Head Coach Andy Friend says:
 
“There’s no hiding the fact that last weekend’s Eagles game was very disappointing and we’re keen to quickly move on from it. That said, the spirit and energy at training has been really positive all week and there’s always a sense of excitement when you start a new season. If this squad can produce what I know they’re capable of, I know we’ve a great chance of picking up a win.”
 
Regarding the fixture itself, Friend added:
 
“It’s always vital you pick up home wins in this competition and Saturday will be no different. We’re coming up against a very strong Glasgow outfit and our recent record against them isn’t great, but our aim in these opening two weeks is two victories and I firmly believe we can achieve that and start the season on a high”.
 
CONNACHT RUGBY SQUAD V GLASGOW WARRIORS
Saturday 3rd October @ The Sportsground (k/o 5.15pm)

Number, Name, Caps
15. John Porch (18)
14. Peter Sullivan (1)
13. Tom Farrell (58)
12. Bundee Aki (101)
11. Alex Wootton (1)
10. Jack Carty (140)
9. Kieran Marmion (167)
1. Denis Buckley (179)
2. Dave Heffernan (130)
3. Finlay Bealham (142)
4. Gavin Thornbury (39)
5. Quinn Roux (101)
6. Jarrad Butler (56) CAPTAIN
7. Conor Oliver (2)
8. Paul Boyle (40)

16. Jonny Murphy (7)
17. Jordan Duggan (1)
18. Jack Aungier (1)
19. Niall Murray (7)
20. Seán Masterson (3)
21. Caolin Blade (112)
22. Conor Fitzgerald (24)
23. Sammy Arnold (1)

By John O’Sullivan
 
Head coach Andy Friend says that Connacht must make the Sportsground a fortress this season, starting with their Guinness PRO14 seasonal opener at home to Glasgow Warriors on Saturday at 5:15 PM.
 
Despite being winless in six games against the Scots, however, and having lost three games in a row against Munster in recent weeks, the Australian is optimistic that Connacht can start their season off on the right note this Saturday.
 
“We had a good chat around that as a team yesterday, around what our goals and our aspirations are for the season. Not too dissimilar to last year, we want to make a home quarter-final. So, in order to do that, you have to win over 90% of your home games and 50% of your away games,” he said.
 
“You look at any team who have been in the home finals over the last four years and that’s what they have done, the players and the staff are all aware of that. It’s the opening game of the round, which is really important for a lot of reasons, but more important because it is at home. We want to get the season off to a good start and preserve our home record,” Friend added.
 
Connacht were on the receiving end of a 40-12 defeat to Munster at Thomond Park last time out, but despite this reversal, Friend is confident that some of the younger players who impressed — such as Conor Dean and Diarmuid Kilgallen — can learn from the experience and put their hands up and pressure the more established players for starting spots this season.
 
“Last weekend down at Thomond Park, a lot of internationals took the field for Munster and it’s great for those young blokes to get out there on the field and tackle them and get tackled by them and realise that they are just footballers. Sometimes, you can look at those blokes and put them up on a pedestal, they’re good footballers but they’re just footballers. They’ll go down as easy as someone else would if you hit them right. To give those blokes that exposure to that level of football is a plus,” the former Australia Sevens coach said.
 
Meanwhile, second-row Gavin Thornbury said that the intra competition in the squad will push Connacht on even further this season.
 
The 26-year old, who joined the Sportsground men in 2017, is vying with Irish internationals Quinn Roux and Ultan Dillane, as well as Niall Murray and Oisin Dowling, for a starting berth in the second row, and this rivalry, Thornbury believes, will bring the best out of everyone in the squad.
 
“The competition across the whole squad, particularly this year, has been class,” the former Leinster lock said.
 
“I think everyone came back from the COVID break in really good nick and everyone came back really looking forward to playing and getting back into it. Everyone is pushing each other on. Across the gym, in terms of speed and other things, everyone is pushing personal bests every week. It’s been really good competing with each other.
 
Ultan and Quinn are both internationals and Niall is coming up and is a proper quality player. It’s good that we’re pushing each other and we know that, come the weekend, the two starters plus whoever is on the bench, is going to be really well prepared.”
 
Hooker David Heffernan, who started in the Thomond Park defeat, says that the Connacht players are eager to make amends for the Munster loss and to start their season off with a victory over Glasgow.
 
“We were quite disappointed at the weekend, especially with all the preparation we have done in the last six months,” the Mayo native admitted.
 
“It was a pretty tough review yesterday, but we have parked that now and it’s all eyes on Glasgow this weekend. We’re really disappointed with the weekend but we’re going to move on now.
 
We want to make the playoffs. In the history of this competition, teams who make the playoffs win 90% of their home games. So, we know we need to do that and to make the Sportsground a fortress. We know that even though there won’t be any fans there that we still have home advantage and we need to make it a place that people don’t like to come. We know how important it is to win our games,” the 29-year old said.

It wasn’t to be for Connacht in the opening game of the new Guinness PRO14 season as Glasgow Warriors took the spoils in an entertaining affair at The Sportsground.

 

You can read the full match report here while match highlights are available at the link below.

 

Check out the action from behind the scenes at the Sportsground on Saturday as we fell to a narrow Guinness PRO14 defeat to Glasgow Warriors in our opener.

Don’t miss out on our first ever clash against South Africa’s Southern Kings on Saturday night!

Buy online here to save 15% on tickets.

Connacht fell to an opening night 18-12 defeat to Glasgow Warriors in the driving rain at the Sportsground on Saturday night.

Next up, we face an historic first ever clash against Southern Kings next Saturday night.

Save 15% on tickets by purchasing online here. 

In driving wind and rain Connacht picked up a losing bonus point as they were beaten by Glasgow Warriors in front of an attendance of 4,017 fans for Kieran Keane’s first competitive game in charge.

Connacht lead early on after a Jack Carty penalty but Glasgow were level when they landed a penalty minutes later. Connacht had some good attacking phases in the first half and but just couldn’t manage get over the line.

Carty did kick two more penalties before the break as the teams went in 9 points to three in Connacht’s favour. But a six point half time lead wasn’t not enough in the tough conditions.

10 minutes into the second half Glasgow were in for a try and although Jack Carty had a fourth successful kick for a penalty it was not to be Connacht’s night.

After 72 minutes Lee Jones got over for a second Glasgow try which was to prove the final score of the game.

Attention now turns to the historic visit for Southern Kings to the Sportsground next Saturday night. Tickets are still available and you can save 15% by purchasing online.

CONNACHT: Darragh Leader, Cian Kelleher, Eoin Griffin (Tom Farrell ’50), Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty (Craig Ronaldson ’71), Kieran Marmion, Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham (Conor Carey ’56), Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson (Sean O’Brien ’50), Jarrad Butler, John Muldoon.

GLASGOW WARRIORS: Ruaridh Jackson, Lelia Masaga, Alex Dunbar, Sam Johnson (Adam Hastings ’8) (Leonardo Sarto ’58), Lee Jones, Peter Horne, Ali Price (Henry Pyrgos ’73), Jamie Bhatti (Oli Kebble ’38-40) (Kebble ’46), George Turner(James Malcolm ’73), Zander Fagerson; Tim Swinson (Greg Peterson ’73), Scott Cummings; Ryan Wilson, Matt Smith (Matt Fagerson ’61), Adam Ashe.

Connacht captain John Muldoon has now completed 15(!) pre-seasons with Connacht Rugby! A new campaign of PRO14 rugby kicks off against Glasgow tomorrow night at the Sportsground and the skipper reveals it has been all change at the province over the summer and takes a look back at his early years at the Sportsground.

A limited number of tickets are still available for the game on Saturday with savings of up to 15% available when purchased online.

See the team announcement here.

Head Coach Kieran Keane and Ireland international Ultan Dillane look ahead to our opening Guinness PRO14 clash with Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground on Saturday night (7.35pm).

The game pits  Keane, former Chiefs Assistant Coach, against Dave Rennie, former Chiefs Head Coach, and Keane is looking forward to an open, expansive game at the Sportsground.

Purchase online to save 15% on Connacht v Glasgow tickets.

With just four days to our Guinness PRO14 opener against Glasgow Warriors, the squad are in good shape after eight weeks of pre-season training.

Strength & Conditioning Coach Johnny O’Connor has praised the work ethic within the squad and described his path from player to coach.

Save 15% by purchasing Connacht v Glasgow Warriors tickets online here.

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