Connacht snatch late Glasgow draw
February 18, 2012
Glasgow's Jon Welsh forced his way over for a try
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Niall O'Connor nailed an injury-time penalty to secure a gritty 13-13 draw for Connacht against RaboDirect PRO12 play-off hopefuls Glasgow Warriors on Saturday.
O'Connor converted a difficult kick into the wind as Eric Elwood's side came from seven points down to earn a share of the spoils. Jon Welsh's second try in as many games gave the Warriors a 7-3 interval lead, the prop charging in under the posts after slack Connacht defending at a ruck.
It had been an error-strewn first half at the Sportsground but play generally improved after that, with a Tiernan O'Halloran try bringing the hosts level. Duncan Weir, the league's top scorer so far this season, came off the bench to kick the Scots ahead again at 13-10 but O'Connor ensured a stalemate.
O'Connor had missed a difficult opening penalty from the left, amid a spate of scrappy scrums, and although Connacht were the aggressors early on they failed to engineer a score.
Their out-half missed a second penalty at the end of the first quarter, this time from just inside his own half. Glasgow struggled for territory, but when they made it into the Connacht half their physicality in contact and at the breakdown helped them set up Welsh's 26th-minute effort.
Connacht were left exposed at a ruck in their 22. Ryan Grant helped fellow prop Welsh surge through the available gap and he fended off Eoghan Grace's challenge before crashing over under the posts. Ruaridh Jackson tapped over the conversion and then won a relieving penalty for the Warriors as Connacht were punished for holding on at a ruck after a maul drive had gained good yards.
Connacht's hard-working forwards got some reward in first-half injury-time when Ryan Wilson infringed at a ruck and O'Connor thumped over the resulting kick from the left.
Jackson cancelled out that penalty with a neat right-footed shot in the 55th minute, but a sin-binning for Glasgow winger Tommy Seymour, who deliberately went offside at a ruck, aided Connacht's comeback.
After the forwards had bashed away at the Glasgow defence, O'Connor hung up a high kick out to the left where it broke for winger O'Halloran to gather and score. O'Connor added a fine conversion but Weir cancelled that out with a 68th minute penalty which looked like it might be the match-winning score.
Replacement Glasgow hooker Finlay Gillies was inches away from sealing the deal with a try in the 72nd minute and it took a tremendous tackle from the covering John Muldoon to bundle him into touch in the right corner. That moment and a powerful final scrum, which won the last-gasp penalty for O'Connor, summed up Connacht's desire to get something out of the encounter.
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