Connacht jumped to seventh place in the RaboDirect PRO12 today with a 24 – 8 win away to Newport Gwent Dragons. This is the fourth win in a row for Pat Lam’s side and also the third successive bonus point win.

Four tries from the visitors were well worked through the forwards with captain and Man of the Match John Muldoon scoring a brace and Rodney Ah You and Michael Swift scoring one in each half.

Outhalf Dan Parks kicked two conversions before being replaced in the second half.

Dragons scored a first minute penalty and didn’t score again until the 69th minute when their winger Tom Prydie crossed in the corner. 

Dragons put the first points on the board when awarded a penalty from the breakdown which outhalf Jason Tovey converted to give his side an early 3 – 0 lead. Winger Tom Prydie had another shot at the posts on five minutes but his long-range attempt went wide.

But Connacht took over the pace from there on and their forward dominance was rewarded with a 17th minute try when the pack worked hard to overturn the hosts’ scrum and maul forward. Muldoon was there to touch down and Parks’ added the extra two points.

Six minutes later, and with Dragons’ losing their lock Robert Sidoldi to the sin bin for infringement at the lineout, Connacht celebrated their second try. Mick Kearney took the lineout ball and the pack delivered to allow Tighthead prop get over the line. Parks, once again, was successful with the conversion kick to bring Connacht 14 – 3 up after 23 minutes.

At this point, the Dragons replaced their entire front row while Dave McSharry, who took a head knock, was replaced in the centre by Darragh Leader.

Connacht, through impressive defence, held on to the 11-point lead until the break, despite some advances towards the line by the Dragons.

Half time: Newport Gwent Dragons 3 – 14 Connacht Rugby 

The home side came out full of intent in the second half and started to respond to the Connacht scrum. With Harris-Wright replaced by Dave Heffernan at the end of the first half, Nathan White was another change to the pack coming on for try scorer Ah You.

Welsh international Taulupe Faletau got a great welcome from the Newport crowd for his introduction on 51 minutes while Dragons’ continued to dominate territory and possession.

They had a real chance with a penalty kick to the corner on 52 minutes but the Connacht defence forced a turnover following the 5metre lineout and Parks kicked to touch to relieve the pressure.

Penalised on the hour mark for offside, Tovey had a chance from the kicking tee but the outhalf could not find his range to close the gap.

Winning a penalty from a Connacht scrum on the half way line, Parks kicked to the corner before being replaced by Miah Nikora. From the resulting lineout, the pack drove over for Muldoon to ground the ball again. Nikora missed the conversion but Connacht were 19 – 8 up.

The Dragons did not give up, however, and they finally added to their tally by opening up the Connacht defence to send winger Prydie over in the corner. Tovey failed to make the conversion.

Scrum half Kieran Marmion made the break of the game, running to within metres of the beckoning try line. But the Dragons eventually got back to force a knock on and prevent the try.

But the fourth try was not denied. Awarded a penalty in the Dragons half, Nikora kicked to the corner for the lineout. Replacement lock Michael Swift used the driving maul to touch down for his second league try of the season. The conversion was missed but it didn’t matter as the visitors had secured the maximum five points on offer.

Full time score: Newport Gwent Dragons 8 – 24 Connacht Rugby

Man of the Match: John Muldoon

Attendance at Rodney Parade: 5, 474

DRAGONS: D Evans, T Prydie, R Wardle, J Dixon, W Harries, J Tovey, R Rees; O Evans, H Gustafson, B Douglas, A Coombs (c), R Sidoli, L Evans, N Cudd, N Talei. Replacements, E Lee for Gustafson, P Price for Evans and D Bell for Douglas (all 28m), A Smith for Dixon (47m), T Faletau f*or Talei (50m), W Evans for Rees (53m), M Screech for Sidoli (57m), Douglas for Bell (59m),
CONNACHT: R Henshaw, T O’Halloran, E Griffin, D McSharry, F Carr, D Parks, K Marmion, D Buckley, J Harris-Wright, R Ah You, A Muldowney, M Kearney, J Muldoon (cpt), E Masterson, E McKeon. Replacements, D Leader for McSharry (22m), D Heffernan for Harris-Wright 39m, N White for A You (47m), A Browne for Masterson (50m), M Nikora for Parks (66m), R Loughney fopr Buckley (74m),

Referee: Geroge Clancy (IRFU).


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