Brive centre Thomas Laranjeira kicked seven from eight penalties to edge out a 21 – 18 win at Stade Amedee-Damenech tonight. Rory Parata scored the first try of the game and captain John Muldoon crossed for a brace after the break but despite all of the games tries being scored by Connacht, missed kicks at goal cost Pat Lam’s men and the French side now go to go to top of pool 1.

It was a perfect start for Connacht after a well-worked move from the kick off led to a try in the left corner for Parata after 40 seconds. MacGinty’s conversion was wayward but Connacht had an early 5 – 0 lead.

Laranjeira kicked the first points for the home side after six minutes, profiting from an offside offense by Connacht. MacGinty was up to the kicking tee again on 12 minutes after his pack won a penalty from a scrum just inside the Brive 10 metre line. But the kick from the USA international was off target and Connacht’s lead was cut when Laranjeira kicked another three points following his side’s dominant scrum. The 23-year-old centre extended his side’s lead to 9 – 5 just before the half hour mark, Connacht’s indiscipline in the 22 costing them again.

Half time: Brive 9 – 5 Connacht

Shortly after the break, MacGinty reduced the gap with a successful kick at goal but it wasn’t long before Laranjeira kicked another through the posts to bring it back to a four-point game.

A Connacht lineout in Brive territory set up a good attacking platform and Bundee Aki profited to break up the middle. A series of phases brought Lam’s men up to five metres from the line and Muldoon charged over for the score, but MacGinty’s conversion kick rebounded off the left upright and wide.

Laranjeira kicked two more penalties either side of the hour mark to give his side an 18 – 13 lead and Connacht had to work hard to fight their way back into the game. It was Muldoon who got over again, after a penalty in the 22 was taken quickly, and the captain dived over to bring the scores level with two minutes remaining on the clock. Replacement outhalf Jack Carty lined up the conversion kick from the 22 metre line and while it had the distance, it was inches wide for the replacement outhalf.

From the resulting restart, a Connacht knock-on provided the home side with the perfect platform to win a penalty from the scrum. And after three resets the penalty duly arrived, and Laranjeira, who had missed only one kick all night, struck his seventh through the uprights to take the victory.

BRIVE: Romain Sola; Guillaume Namy, Thomas Laranjeira, Christopher Tuatara, Benito Masilevu; Matthieu Ugalde, Jean-Baptiste Pejoine; Goderzi Shvelidze, Thomas Acquier, Kevin Buys, Victor Lebas, Arnaud Mela (capt), William Whetton, Fabien Sanconnie, Sisa Koyamaibole.
Replacements: Guillaume Ribes, Damien Lavergne, Yusuf Tuncer, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Poutasi Luafutu, Teddy Iribaren, Nicolas Bezy, Arnaud Mignardi.

CONNACHT: Tiernan O’Halloran; Danie Poolman, Rory Parata, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy; AJ MacGinty, Ian Porter; Ronan Loughney, Jason Harris-Wright, Rodney Ah You, Ultan Dillane, Aly Muldowney, Sean O’Brien, James Connolly, John Muldoon (capt).
Replacements: Tom McCartney, Denis Buckley, Finlay Bealham, George Naoupu, Eoghan Masterson, Caolin Blade, Jack Carty, Peter Robb.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England)
Assistant Referees: Dean Richards, Paul Burton (both England)
Television Match Official: Rowan Kitt (England)

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