Northampton Saints 21 – 15 Connacht

Connacht’s season ended with a 21 – 15 defeat at the hands of Northampton Saints today. It was a much improved performance by Pat Lam’s men who threw everything into the 80 minutes at Franklin’s Gardens but ultimately couldn’t break the Saints’ defensive line in the closing stages.

It was the worst possible start for Connacht, conceding a try inside 57 seconds. Outhalf  Harry Mallinder touched down in the right corner and stepped up to kick the conversion clear.

Connacht wasted no time in responding, wing Niyi Adeolokun driving hard at the home defence and reaching over the line for the try after four minutes. Craig Ronaldson, on kicking duties today, duly slotted the conversion.

After the initial flurry of scores, the pace of the game slowed down but both sides exchanged penalties – two from Mallinder and one from Ronaldson.

Half time: Northampton Saints 13 – 10 Connacht Rugby

Saints’ scrumhalf Nic Groom extended the home side’s lead when he scampered over in the 57th minute. Mallinder missed the conversion and five minutes later, Connacht kicked a penalty to the corner and mauled it over for Dave Heffernan to touch down.

The next score was vital and it fell to Saints when they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts. Mallinder extended his tally to 16 points and put his side 6 points clear with nine minutes remaining.

Saints’ second row Jamie Gibson was sent to the bin for slowing down the ball at ruck time and Connacht got one last chance to strike. Ronaldson kicked to touch and the lineout was won but the Saints defence drove play back. Lam’s men fought to the very end but time ran out and Saints held out to book a home playoff final with Challenge Cup winners Stade Francais next Friday night.

For Lam and Connacht it was a heart-breaking finish but it was a performance to be proud of on the last day of the season.

 

80
End
Mike Haywood
Ahsee Tuala
78
Jamie Gibson
Yellow card
77
Harry Mallinder
Penalty
70
66
Conor Carey
Finlay Bealham
Lee Dickson
Nic Groom
66
65
John Cooney
Kieran Marmion
Api Ratuniyarawa
Christian Day
63
61
Dave Heffernan
Try
Gareth Denman
Kieran Brookes
61
Campese Ma'afu
Alex Waller
61
Tom Wood
Teimana Harrison
57
Nic Groom
Try
56
55
Naulia Dawai
Jake Heenan
48
Ultan Dillane
James Cannon
40
Second Half Start
40
First Half End
28
Craig Ronaldson
Penalty
Harry Mallinder
Penalty
23
Rory Hutchinson
Luther Burrell
22
Harry Mallinder
Penalty
15
4
Craig Ronaldson
Conversion
4
Niyi Adeolokun
Try
2
Matt Healy
Cian Kelleher
Harry Mallinder
Conversion
2
Harry Mallinder
Try
0
0
First Half Start
Northampton Connacht
2
2
Tries
322
330
Metres
81
116
Carries
26
18
Defenders Beaten
5
7
Clean Breaks
102
196
Passes
11
7
Offloads
10
13
Turnovers Conceeded