Connacht manager Andy Friend calls Glasgow loss ‘unacceptable’

Connacht 20 Glasgow Warriors 42

“No apologies, lack of energy and spark, stupidity of penalties, unacceptable.”

Livid head coach Andy Friend said Connacht could no longer be ‘honourable losers’ after Saturday’s 42-20 loss to Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground in Galway – a result that sent them adrift of leaders URC Edinburgh by 14 points.

“I don’t think there are any extenuating circumstances,” Friend said, despite the unavailability of several key players including Bundee Aki, Jack Carty, Finlay Bealham, Cian Prendergast, in addition to notable injuries in the front row.

“There are other teams that lack players. That cannot be an excuse if we are looking to grow as a province.

“We missed a few key people who normally give us that energy, but it’s up to other guys to step in. We gave them an opportunity, I thought we were right, but on this performance we obviously weren’t. Congratulations to Glasgow, they were much, much, much better.

“To have a reasonably full house, Tiernan O’Halloran’s 200th game, Cathal Forde’s first, our head physical therapist Garrett [Coughlan] leaving – so many great things to play and we delivered that – really disappointing.

Glasgow’s Richie Gray and Connacht’s Ultan Dillane battle for the ball during an outing. Photography: James Crombie/Inpho

After placing in the top-16 in the Heineken Champions Cup for the first time in provincial history, a follow-up performance was expected. Instead, he says, Connacht have found themselves with an uphill battle to qualify for next season’s European Cup.

“We were in a healthy position going into this game, but a win was crucial for us. We all knew it, but we didn’t understand it. So next week becomes so, so important to us.

Traveling to Belfast to face Ulster, he says Connacht have made it harder for themselves – and “if we play like that they’ll give us 60 or 70”.

At Sportsground, the Warriors raced in six tries to crack the top four in the URC standings.

Connacht, plagued by injuries and absences, were competitive but limited against a pack of Glasgow who had more punch, but it was not until Connacht lost a player to sin-bin after 53 minutes that the Warriors in took advantage and scored two tries from which the home team could not recover

Glasgow had taken a 17-10 lead into the break with three first-half tries on Connacht’s lone effort, but within two minutes Paul Boyle crashed out and debutant Cathal Ford converted. The two sides traded penalties before Paul Boyle was shown a yellow card and then the visitors took control, adding three tries and a penalty.

SCORING SEQUENCE – 3 minutes: R McLean tries 0-5; 13: S Arnold tries, C Forde con 7-5; 19: Try by K Steyn, D Weir with 7-12; 36: Fraser Brown tries 7-17; 40: Pen C Forde 10-17. ME 10 -17; 44: P Boyle tries, C Forde con 17-17; 48: D Spillway pen 17-20; 51: Forde 20-20 C Pen; 60: R McLean tries 20-25; 63: K Steyn try, D Weir v 20-32; 73: D Spillway pen 20-35; 80: J Matthews tries, D Weir con 20-42.

TO KNOW : T O’Halloran; A Wootton, T Farrell, S Arnold, D Kilgallen; C Forde, K Marmion; J Duggan, D Heffernan, G McGrath; U Dillane, L Fifita; E Masterson, J Butler (captain), P Boyle.

Replacements: S Bolton for Farrell (24 mins), O Dowling for Fifita (41), D Buckley for Duggan (51), T Tuimauga for McGrath, O McNulty for Kilgallen (both 59), S Masterson for Dillane (64), S Delahunt for Heffernan (66), C Reilly for Marmion (69).

Yellow card: Paul Boyle (54 mins).

GLASGOW WARRIORS: O Smith; S Cancelliere, K Steyn, S Tuipulotu, R McLean; D Weir, G Horne; O Kebble, F Brown, E Pieretto; K McDonald, R Gray; Wilson R, Gordon T, Dempsey J.

Replacements: A Miller for Dempsey (45 min), S Berghan for Pieretto (49), J Bhatti for Kebble (51), J Dobie for Horne (59), J Matthews for Brown (62), L Bean for Wilson (69), R Thompson, S McDowall for Cancelliere (73).

Yellow card: Richie Gray (9 mins).

Arbitrator: N Berry (Australia).

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