BRIVE 24-31 CONNACHT
Connacht have put themselves in pole position for a place in the knockout stages in the EPCR Challenge Cup with a bonus point win over Brive in France tonight.
First half tries from David Hawkshaw, Tom Daly and Diarmuid Kilgallen, followed by the bonus point score from Shane Delahunt was enough to seal the win and make it 6 wins from their last 8 games.
It was a game where Connacht always seemed to be in control, helped in a small part to a Brive red card in the first half that gave the visitors an extra-man advantage for an hour. At the time Connacht were leading by 7 points to 3, with an early penalty from the hosts quickly cancelled out by an excellent solo effort from David Hawkshaw, wrong footing his opposite number before showing typical power to touch down.
As has often been the case for Connacht this season they often found themselves in the opponents 22 but a lack of accuracy at times let them down, but that wasn’t the case when Tom Daly beat his man for the second try of the game after some good work from the forwards.
The try of the night then followed a few minutes later when, with Brive down to 13 men, Conor Fitzgerald flung the ball out wide to Diarmuid Kilgallen who showed great pace and an even better finish to touch down in the corner, giving Connacht a 21-3 lead at the break.
Any fears that Connacht would have to wait for the bonus point try were washed away just five minutes into the second half when the maul did an excellent job off a five metre lineout and Shane Delahunt was at the back for the fourth score.
That was as good as it got for the visitors as a number of errors allowed Brive back into the game with three tries in the final 20 minutes. Connacht found themselves in the almost unthinkable position of not sealing the win despite a 25 point lead against 14 men, with the gap down to 7 points with 5 minutes to go. However the side did enough to keep the ball deep in Brive territory and hold on for the win.
Next up for Andy Friend’s troops is the crucial visit of Ulster to The Sportsground in the URC next week, and the squad will go into the game with growing momentum behind them after the tough start of the season.