Connacht 22 Perpignan 10
European Challenge Cup
Saturday 8th December 2018
Connacht defeated both the opposition and the elements to claim the win on a stereotypical wet and windy west of Ireland day. The home side played with a gale at their backs during the first half and two early tries from Darragh Leader and Bundee Aki inside the first 20 minutes looked like setting Connacht on their way to an easy victory. However, as the weather worsened the error count increased and a couple of malfunctions at the lineout and a crucial knock-on interrupted the momentum that Connacht had built up during that first quarter.
A yellow card for Perpignan’s Yoann Vivalda gave Connacht a numerical advantage as the half drew to a close, but they failed to make use of the extra numbers spilling the ball at a crucial moment when in a threatening position in the opposition 22.
As the second half began Connacht controlled the ball for a five-minute spell and a penalty from David Horwitz into the teeth of the gale extended their lead to 17-0. Perpignan then hit back with a penalty of their own and a try from a lineout maul which was grounded by the Samoan hooker, Manu Leaiataua. The away side were now right back in the contest trailing by seven points at 17-10 and the next score would be crucial. Perpignan’s try scorer Leaiataua was sent to the bin with ten minutes remaining and this time around Connacht made full use of the extra man as Kyle Godwin crossed for the insurance score with five minutes remaining.
In the other game in the pool Sale won convincingly away to Bordeaux by 24-50. Sale now top the group on 15 points, while Connacht sit in second place on 8 points and the two French sides prop up the group on 2 points each. Next weeks fixture see Connacht travel to the south of France to face Perpignan and Sale host Bordeaux.