Connacht fell to their first defeat in this season’s European Challenge Cup with a 29 – 5 loss to Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park today. 

It was all level at half time with one try a-piece but the hosts put in a dominant second half display to register four unanswered scores – two of those coming from penalty tries. 

It was always going to be an uphill battle for Pat Lam’s men with only 22 players fit and available to travel but the young side put in an impressive performance before the break and it was Danie Poolman who responded to the Falcon’s 24th minute try when he got over himself five minutes later for his second score in as many weeks.

Half time: Newcastle Falcons 5 – 5 Connacht 

The momentum shifted when the home side came out storming in the second half and earned a 5 metre scrum after they were held up over the line. Referee Ben Whitehouse awarded the first of two penalty tries and sent flanker Eoghan Masterson to the sin bin in the process. Down to 14 men, it went from bad to worse for Connacht when five minutes later the hosts were over for another try, this time through centre Belisario Agulla. Outhalf Craig Willis missed his second of three conversion attempts but Newcastle were 17 – 5 up after 47 minutes.

Connacht had a chance to reduce the gap shortly after but the long-distance attempt for Craig Ronaldson was wide.

The home side were awarded another penalty try and their fourth for the bonus point on 56 minutes when Connacht were penalised for repeated infringement. Willis tapped over the easy conversion to make it 24 – 5. Newcastle turned the screw just before the hour mark with a break from their full back Simon Hammerslay who offloaded to wing Marcus Watson to get over for his second of the day. Willis’ conversion was wide and there were no further scores in the remaining 20 minutes but the Falcons were comfortable winners for just their second time this season.

Full time: Newcastle Falcons 29 – 5 Connacht

Newcastle Falcons: Simon Hammersley (Tom Catterick ’31-39); Alex Tait, Belisario Agulla, Chris Harris (Juan Pablo Socino ’40), Marcus Watson; Craig Willis (Tom Catterick ’65), Sonatane Takulua (Micky Young ’56); Alex Rogers (Rob Vickers ’51), Scott Lawson (George McGuigan ’51), Jon Welsh (Taoine Vea ’58); Mouritz Botha, Sean Robinson (Calum Green ’58); Will Welch (capt), Dan Temm (Richard Mayhew ’65), Ally Hogg.

Connacht: Danie Poolman (Ian Porter ’63); Rory Parata, Peter Robb (Jack Carty ’12), Craig Ronaldson, Niyi Adeolokun; Shane O’Leary, Caolin Blade (Ian Porter ’48-52); Conan O’Donnell (Saba Meunargia ’71), Jason Harris-Wright (Shane Delahunt ’57), Rodney Ah You (Finlay Bealham ’54); Danny Qualter, Andrew Browne (Aly Muldowney ’65); Sean O’Brien, Eoghan Masterson, George Naoupu (capt).

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales).

 

 

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