MATCH REPORT WITH THANKS TO THE EPCR Connacht's European Challenge Cup campaign came to an end last night after the squad fell to a 20-10 quarter-final defeat to Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium.
First half tries from wing duo Byron McGuigan and Denny Solomona did the damage while fly-half AJ MacGinty contributed with ten points from the kicking tee.
It was Connacht fly-half Jack Carty who nearly grabbed the first try after a delightful intercept and sprint towards the try line but Denny Solomona reeled him in five metres short.
The Irish province – playing in their dark blue alternate strip – would win the first penalty in kickable range and Carty made no mistake from 33 metres out, putting Connacht ahead for the only time in the match.
The Connacht lead didn’t last long as McGuigan exploited the overlap from an attacking Sale scrum, darting towards the corner after a decent set of passes wide left. Against his former side, MacGinty booted over the tricky conversion.
MacGinty then set up a second Sale try as his floated pass found Solomona who walked over the try line in the opposite corner to the opening score.
Connacht continued to struggle to get back onside with every quick phase initiated by Sale scrum-half and Man of the Match Faf de Klerk. That meant MacGinty could add to his growing tally with two penalty goals from in front of the posts before the interval.
It took 27 minutes before the visitors managed to score the first points of the second half despite dominating territory and possession. That came through centre Godwin who jinked past the the final Sale defender after a powerful Connacht scrum inside the opposition 22.
Stand-in kicker Darragh Leader slotted the conversion but they would be the final points of the match as Sale held firm despite several waves of Connacht attack.