Connacht rounded off their pre-season preparations with a third win after overcoming near neighbours Munster in a high scoring game in the Sportsground. A crowd of 4,738 were treated to an entertaining contest that Connacht always led after Caolin Blade scored Connacht’s first try of the game after 25 minutes. Blade and his scrum half replacement Kieran Marmion had a huge bearing on the game – both contributing two tries over the course of the eighty minutes. The ability to carve open the opposition from clever attacking moves was the main difference between the two sides.
Blades first effort, converted by the impressive Conor Fitzgerald, was followed by a quick Munster response when Rory Scannell raced over for a Munster try on the half hour mark. The Munster response was in fact the final score of an opening half which was characterised by mistakes on both sides.
The second period provided a feast of tries. Within a minute of the restart, Tiernan O’Halloran powered down the left wing and offloaded to captain Jarrad Butler who had plenty to do before touching down at the College Road end. When Connacht scored another try a minute later from Caolin Blade, a Connacht win always looked likely as the home side were in the ascendancy on a scoreline of 21 points to 5.
Munster did bring it back to 21 – 12 with a try from Shane Daly after 52 minutes but Connacht responded again with the first of Kieran Marmion’s efforts, three minutes later.
With a host of changes on both sides, it was try for try from there to the finish. Peter Robb finished off the best try of the day when he linked cleverly with replacement outhalf Conor Dean. Marmion then closed Connacht’s account on 78 minutes.
So Connacht complete their preseason with a one hundred per cent win record and another useful workout as the real work of Pro14 and Champions Cup rugby beckons.
Connacht Scorers – Kieran Marmion (2 Tries), Jarrad Butler (try), Caolin Blade (2 Tries), Peter Robb (Try), Conor Fitzgerald (4 Convs), Conor Dean (1 conv).
Tiernan O’Halloran, Stephen Fitzgerald (John Porch), Kyle Godwin, Tom Farrell (Peter Robb), Matt Healy, Conor Fitzgerald (Conor Dean), Caolin Blade (Kieran Marmion), (1-8) Paddy McAllister (Denis Buckley), Tom McCartney (Jonny Murphy), Finlay Bealham (Dominic Robertson-McCoy), Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux (Ultan Dillane), Eoghan Masterson (Paul Boyle), Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Eoin McKeon).