Connacht returned to winning ways at the Sportsground tonight with a comprehensive 33-12 victory over Bernard Jackman’s Dragons. However, it could have been a different story if the Dragons had finished any of their three clean line-breaks in the first quarter. The most glaring of these was after 20 minutes when Dafydd Howells knocked on with the line at his mercy.
Within a couple of minutes Connacht had their opening score. A 5-meter lineout was gathered and the rolling maul was set, with James Cannon the man to touch it down after the Connacht pack powered their way over. The second try wasn’t long in coming as four minutes later Connacht attacked in numbers and Darragh Leader was in plenty of space on the right wing to finish off a pass from Tiernan O’Halloran.
From the restart, Dragons found themselves in a threatening position in the Connacht 22, but another handling error proved costly for the Welsh side as Connacht broke quickly. Colm De Buitelar gathered the loose ball and fed David Horowitz who found a gap and burst out of the 22 and laid the ball off to the onrushing Tom Farrell just before halfway, Farell drew the cover and released Colby Fainga’a who showed a great turn of pace to race away for the score.
Darragh Leader thought he was in for his second score after gathering an attempted clearance from Dragons’ Jordan Williams and racing over, but his celebrations were cut short after an intervention from the TMO, as it was adjudged that he was offside, as the clearance kick came off a Connacht body rather than a Welshman. However, Connacht fans didn’t have to wait too long for their bonus point try. A series of close range pick and go drives was finished off by Tom McCartney crashing over on the stroke of halftime. Horwitz added the extras and Connacht lead at the break 26-0.
The second half was an attritional affair, Connacht had a second try chalked off when Kiernan Marmion pirouetted over the line after good approach work, but the scored was chalked off after being referred to the TMO who spotted some obstruction in the build-up. The Dragons finally got on the scoreboard when Hallam Amos found a gap in the Connacht 22 to ease over the line on 56 minutes.
Connacht had their fifth try of the night after a nice loop play from Jack Carty, who sent Tom Farrell over with ten minutes to play. The last word went to the Dragons, as they went through multiple phases at the death and finally crossed the line in the 85th minute when Tiane Basham got over in the corner. Jason Tovey converted to leave the full-time score at the Sortsground reading Connacht 33 Dragons 12.