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Glasgow Warriors 8 Connacht 6: Grind keeps gold dust of the play-offs within sight

A WIN every bit as hard-fought and edgy as the scoreline suggests was fine by Gregor Townsend, the Glasgow head coach.

Mark Bennett clings on to the ball under pressure to score the game's only try for Glasgow. Picture: Ross Eaglesham/SportPix.eu
Mark Bennett clings on to the ball under pressure to score the game's only try for Glasgow. Picture: Ross Eaglesham/SportPix.eu

The result was all that mattered. His team defended stoutly against the strong wind in the first half, found the one moment of inspiration through Henry Pyrgos, the scrum half, and did just enough to close out the victory.

Any positive feeling derived from the game was not enough to eclipse events at Murrayfield the day before, but at least it meant that there were some Scotland rugby supporters able to head home having seen their team win. It keeps Glasgow just outside the play-off zone in fifth place in the RaboDirect Pro12, but they have two games in hand and wins in both of them would move the team up to second in the league.

"Conditions were really bad," said Townsend. "Handling-wise with the wind it was really tough. It is hard to play into the wind but also tough when you have the wind behind. The boys put in a huge effort in the first half and we were disappointed to be down with a penalty just before the break.

"Connacht put in a huge effort [in the second half] and defensively they were very good — we did not get many penalties when we had the pressure — but there were times when we looked really good with high tempo and creating opportunities. I am very proud of the effort, but we need to keep hold of that ball when we have the defence under pressure."

Glasgow did well defensively before the interval, though Connacht must have been disappointed to be leading by only a single point at the break with Craig Ronaldson having kicked two penalties but missed three.

In reply, Glasgow supplied the only moment of real ingenuity in the game with Pyrgos spotting a gap round the fringe of a ruck and racing away on his own. Crucially he kept his head as the cover defence closed in from both sides, chipping the ball out to the left where Mark Bennett, the centre, had an easy run to collect it a yard from the line and touch down for what turned out to be the only try of the game.

"We wanted to get a few more points, we were aware that in a game as tight as that they could have nicked it," said Pyrgos. "We created a few chances but just could not finish them. It was tough out there in the wind, against the wind you could battle your way up the pitch and one mistake meant you were back in your own 22. It was not easy, playing in those conditions.

"It was nice to get another start for Glasgow and I felt I played quite well. In a game like that you are pretty involved as a nine, I was in the game a lot and felt I made a few good decisions. It was nice to set up the try, a good performance and hopefully something to build on for next week."

The real problem for Glasgow, as it has been all season, was that when the game was going their way, they were unable to muster up anything by way of creativity or finishing.

On a few occasions they fashioned half-chances, but to turn them into fully-fledged, real opportunities, they would have been required to complete some incredibly difficult passes. None of those attempts came off — and with a greasy ball and the wind blowing long passes way off target, it always looked very unlikely that any of them would.

With the wind behind them after the break, they camped in the Connacht 22 and spent most of the period within 10 yards of the opposition goal line without being able to carve out any clear openings as the visitors set about tackling with the kind of relish they normally reserve for games against the bigger teams.

This fixture last season was one of Glasgow's bonus-point cruises, but there is still no sign of them hitting that sort of try-scoring form in this campaign. Just like the national team, they are finding it hard to cross the whitewash, but they will take solace from grinding out this win.

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