Match Preview | Connacht
The United Rugby Championship comes back with a bang this weekend, as Glasgow Warriors travel to Galway for a meeting with Connacht on Saturday afternoon.
Ever-entertaining to watch, the men from the west of Ireland have once again been providing plenty of highlight-reel worthy moments during the 2021/22 season to date, a season that has seen them qualify for the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup for the first time.
It’s the Warriors who currently sit the higher in the URC standings, however, as Danny Wilson’s men make the trip looking to consolidate their place in the top four and close the gap to those above them in the table.
So what should you know ahead of this weekend’s clash?
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It was Connacht who came out on top in the most recent meeting between the two sides, with Andy Friend’s squad earning a narrow 28-24 victory at the Sportsground in the opening match of the 2020/21 season.
Nick Grigg’s try on the stroke of half-time had given the Warriors a 7-3 lead at the break, only for scores from Bundee Aki and Quinn Roux to put the home side in front.
Huw Jones’ sublime finish from a well-worked set play briefly levelled the scores at 17-17, only for Aki’s second try and the boot of Jack Carty to see Connacht home, Tommy Seymour’s try securing a losing bonus-point for the Warriors.
Ones to watch
Having only signed for the province ahead of the 2021/22 season, Mack Hansen has exploded onto the URC scene. The winger currently leads the league in tries, clean breaks, metres made and defenders beaten, with his form in the green of Connacht having earned him a first call-up to Andy Farrell’s Ireland squad ahead of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations.
Often at the heart of all that’s good about Connacht’s attack, Caolin Blade is likely to once again be a key figure if selected for Saturday’s clash. With 140 appearances for the province to date, the 27-year-old’s speed of service and eye for a gap will mean the Glasgow defence will need to be on top form to contain the livewire number nine.
Only one Connacht player has made more carries than Hansen this season, and he can be found in the back-row. Conor Oliver has quickly become an integral part of the Connacht pack after making the switch from Munster in the summer of 2020, with his breakdown work also making him a menace for opposition defences.
The Warrior Nation will be hoping Saturday’s result is in the vein of the one that occurred in the opening match of the 2016/17 season, when their side delivered a thumping 41-5 victory over their hosts.
With Connacht playing their first match as defending champions after winning the title in 2016, a finely-balanced match sat in Glasgow’s favour at the break thanks to a double from Seymour.
The Warriors would cut loose in the second half, however; tries from Stuart Hogg, Tim Swinson, Sila Puafisi and Sean Lamont – on his 100th appearance for the club – would ultimately seal a dominant bonus-point win to kick-start the campaign.
A new face will be taking charge of proceedings this weekend, as Australian referee Nic Berry – an experienced figure on the international stage – officiates his first match in the URC.
The former Racing 92 and Wasps scrum-half will be assisted by Stuart Gaffikin and Stuart Douglas, whilst countryman Brett Cronan will be on hand as the Television Match Official as and when required at the Sportsground.
Supporters can watch the match live on Premier Sports 1 on Saturday afternoon, with kick-off scheduled for 2.55pm.
You can also follow all the action as it happens in our Live Match Centre – simply go to glasgowwarriors.org from an hour before kick-off for all the updates as they come in.