Connacht were back in sixth place after round 15 and today’s five-point win over Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.

The Welsh side were up against it when their captain Rynard Landman was red carded on the 14th minute for a late and dangerous tackle on outhalf Jack Carty. Down to 14 men, Kingsley Jones’ men showed their resilience and determination to stay in the game for the full 80 minutes.

Craig Ronaldson, Eoghan Masterson and Mick Kearney all crossed for Connacht in atrocious conditions in Wales while Jack Carty and Darragh Leader both combining to kick 15 points.

Dragons’ three tries were scored by wing Hallam Amos (2) and centre Jack DIxon while right wing Tom Prydie kicked 10 points.

Newport opened the scoring within five minutes when Prydie kicked a straight forward penalty.

Connacht hit back moments later, making the most of a five metre lineout. When the resulting maul was held up, the ball was recycled out to the backs and Ronaldson exploited the gap to dot down under the posts in what was his first game back in over seven weeks.  Carty converted from in front of the uprights to put the visitors into a lead which was never relinquished.

The Athlone-born outhalf was up to the kicking tee minutes later for a three-pointer which he slotted with ease.  And it went from bad to worse for the hosts after 14 minutes when their captain Landman was shown red for an elbow to Carty.

The resulting penalty, kicked by Carty, fell wide from 30 yards out and he was off target just once more three minutes later when Dragons were penalised for….

But Pat Lam’s men pulled further ahead after 22 minutes when 21-year-old Masterson, on his first start of the season, scored and Carty added the extras to make it 17-3.

That lead was reduced, however, just after the half hour mark when Lyn Jones’ men showed their attacking threat to expose the Connacht defence and send Amos over in the corner for his side’s first try. Prydie’s conversion went awry but he made up for it just before the break with a successful penalty kick through the posts.

Half time: Dragons 11 – 17 Connacht

Play was limited in the opening exchanges of the second period as conditions worsened, making it difficult for both sides. Fullback Leader had the first points of the half with a penalty after 57 minutes. The Galway native kicked another through the uprights just two minutes later to move his side nine points clear.

But the Dragons refused to lie down and produced a relentless attack on the Connacht line that lead to centre Dixon crossing for the try after 65 minutes which Prydie converted.

It was ten minutes before Connacht showed  a response on the scoreboard with replacement lock Kearney cleverly chasing down a blocked kick to get to the loose ball and touch down. Leader added the extras and the men green went in search of a fourth try for the bonus point.

But it wasn’t to be and with the home support roaring their encouragement, the hosts were motivated to secure something from the game. They went through numerous phases in the Connacht 22 and eventually it was Amos who ran past the defence to snatch the late score and consolation losing bonus point. Prydie slotted the conversion at the full time whistle.

Full time: Dragons 25 – 30 Connacht

Referee: Lloyd Linton

Man of the Match: John Cooney, Connacht Rugby

Attendance: 4, 180

Connacht: D. Leader, D. Poolman, D. McSharry, C. Ronaldson, M. Healy, J. Carty, J. Cooney;
D.Buckley, T. McCartney, R. Ah You, Q. Roux, A. Muldowney, J. Muldoon (c), J. Heenan, E. Masterson.

Replacements: S. Delahunt (for McCartney, 78”), JP Cooney (for Buckley, 78”), F Bealham (for Ah You, 66”), M Kearney (for Roux, 55”), G Naoupu (for Masterson, 70”), I Porter (for Cooney, 78”), N Adeolokun (for Healy, 79”), T O’Halloran (for Carty, 47”).

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