Glasgow Warriors came one step closer to the final of the RaboDirect Pro12, as they beat Irish opponents Connacht in a thrilling match at Firhill.
There was plenty of emotion in the air as the Warriors said a fond farewell to Firhill, their home for five seasons.
And the pre-match build up saw Warriors CEO Nathan Bombrys present Partick Thistle’s David Beattie with a gift to commemorate the years of cooperation between the two clubs.
Glasgow came out determined to keep their campaign going into the semi finals, and had an early chance to get points on the board as the home side earned a penalty two minutes into play.
However fly half Duncan Weir put the ball just wide, in an uncharacteristic moment of inaccuracy.
Connacht took this as a real statement of intent and when they earned the penalty two minutes later, they chose to kick for touch.
A strong lineout and fast passing saw them segue into dominance, however it was short-lived as Warriors hooker Dougie Hall, in a moment of brilliant play intercepted the ball giving the home side the turnover.
As they drove Connacht back into their own half, the visitors were penalised for bringing down the scrum. This time Weir did not miss, and nine minutes in Warriors were on the scoreboard.
Connacht wasted little time in responding and four minutes later the scores were levelled as Miah Nikora kicked three points for the Irish visitors.
The opening twenty minutes of the match were nervy for both teams, and there were several errors and uncharacteristic mistakes.
But as the nerves settled and the players grew into the game, Glasgow began to find their stride, with Duncan Weir demonstrating his skill and range, slotting a penalty over from the halfway line, to give the home side a small lead.
This lead was extended 25 minutes into the match as DTH Van der Merwe, making his first start since returning from a serious shoulder injury, blazed over the try line after Stuart Hogg spotted him in space on the wing.
The extra two points were not added to though at this point, as Weir missed his second kick of the night.
Emotions were running high throughout the match and 34 minutes in they spilled over as Tom Ryder and Mike McCarthy came to blows, resulting in some severe words from the referee, who refrained from sending either to the bin.
Duncan Weir turned mascot for a moment, encouraging the crowd to make noise, as he kicked to touch, earning a line-out five metres from the try-line.
The resulting drive looked certain to result in a try, however Connacht narrowly won the penalty, crushing the hope of the Firhill Faithful who were on their feet and in fine form.
There was still much work to be done in the second half, and the Warriors took every chance they got to extend their lead over the visitors.
The first such chance came with a Duncan Weir penalty, 48minutes in. An easy kick from 10 metres out for the stand off took the score to 14-3.
As each side struggled to gain the upper hand the play went back and forth, with full backs Stuart Hogg and Gavin Duffy trading kicks with each other until Connacht won the penalty as the Warriors failed to roll away.
It came to nothing for the visitors and actually ended up gaining the Warriors some valuable ground, that could have resulted in another Van der Merwe try, however the winger was bundled into touch by the Connacht defence.
Another three points from the boot of Duncan Weir increased the pressure on the visitors as the home side took a comfortable 14-point lead just short of the hour mark.
As if that was not enough, the Warriors were given a man advantage when Connacht’s substitute scrum half Paul O’Donohoe was sin-binned for cynical play.
A move that had the Firhill crowd voicing their vociferous support.
Taking that man advantage to its fullest extent, John Barclay was bundled over the line in a determined forwards try. And Ruaridh Jackson added the two extras points to take the score to 24-3, with nine minutes to play.
The hero turned to a villain though, three minutes later as Barclay was penalised for having his hands in at the ruck, and he was sent to the sin bin, just as O’Donohoe came back to the field, giving Connacht the man advantage going into the final minutes.
Connacht were frantic to restore their pride and not come away from this game with only three points to their name, and it appeared as though their efforts were rewarded with a try, however it was not to be as the TMO decreed that it was not a try.
All that remained was for the Warriors to see out the game, and secure their places on the plane to Dublin to face Leinster next weekend.