A young Connacht Eagles side suffered defeat in round 2 of the British & Irish Cup today at the hands of Welsh side Pontypridd RFC.

It was a tough day for Nigel Carolan’s developing troops who faced a hugely physical Ponty side that dominated around the fringes and with turnover ball.

The visitors registered seven tries in total – three of them starting in their own half on the back of turnovers. Hooker Liam Belcher scored a hat trick and there was one each from full back Aled Summerhill, lock Craig Locke and winger Lewis Williams.

Eagles’ replacement scrum half Caolin Blade crossed in the second half for his side’s only try while outhalf Shane O’Leary had a 100% record from the kicking tee with three penalties and the conversion.

Full time: Connacht Eagles 16 – 42 Pontypridd RFC

Speaking after the game, Head Coach Nigel Carolan said:

“We gifted them a lot of ball and allowed them to play a lot more than we would have liked. Three of their scores came from their own half with breakouts from our turnovers. So the score line probably wasn’t a fair reflection of the amount of possession we did have. Our use of possession is one particular area that we’re going to focus in on and where we have to improve.

“There were glitches in our defensive systems of course and we need to look at ourselves individually and as a team. But that’s what these games are for. The only way you learn is being exposed at this sort of level. That’s why we’re in this competition.

“We’re looking forward to playing London Scottish next weekend. We’re growing as a team and I certainly couldn’t fault the effort of the players today. If we can tidy up on some of the mistakes I think we’ll get a much better return on the score board.”

The Eagles are in action again next Saturday at the Sportsground when London Scottish visit for round 3 of the B&I Cup. Kick off is at 14:30.

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