A brilliant individual effort from Adam Byrne, his first for the club, helped Connacht on their way to a Challenge Cup win over Newcastle Falcons at a freezing Sportsground this evening.
Tries from Byrne, Boyle and Kilgallen ensured a fourth win in five games heading into a crucial Christmas period.
Connacht started just the way they wanted and it was the Player of the Match from last week who carried on where he left off. Following an excellent break from the typically lively Caolin Blade, Paul Boyle showed enough power to touch down under the posts in the first few minutes.
However just like the Benetton game seven days earlier, and early Connacht try was then followed by sustained pressure from the opposition. A penalty on 18 minutes brought the teams to within four, and then the hosts took the lead for the first time seven minutes later after a cross-field kick was claimed with Newcastle playing with penalty advantage.
With Newcastle looking to go into the break with the lead, then came a moment of absolute brilliance from Adam Byrne was effectively ended up being the difference between the sides. Picking up the ball on half-way, the winger evaded two would-be tacklers to break the defensive line and touch down for his first try in the Connacht green, giving the hosts a 14-8 lead.
As the temperature plummeted in the second forty it came down to grit and determination to ensure the win. Connacht kept the visitors scoreless in the second half, continuing the excellent defensive performances of the past few months. Jarrad Butler and his troops dominated territory in the third quarter, and after just missing the final pace to get the third try, eventually Hawkshaw opted for the three points to stretch the lead to 17-8.
The win was then secured five minutes from time when, with more possession deep in the Newcastle half, a kick to the corner was brilliantly taken by Diarmuid Kilgallen, capping another fine performance for the winger.
It came too late to give the squad many opportunities to chase the fourth try and additional point, but Andy Friend and the coaching team will be happy to head to Brive with another win under the belt.