Edinburgh Rugby stretched their lead at the top of Guinness PRO14 Conference B after defeating Connacht 41-14 at BT Murrayfield.

In a hard-fought and physically-draining contest it was Richard Cockerill’s men who prevailed, claiming a bonus-point success to tighten their grip at the top of the conference.

Connacht were hindered early on when a serious-looking injury to Finlay Bealham halted proceedings, with the prop replaced by Dominic Robertson-McCoy after only four minutes.

A pair of long-range kicks from Simon Hickey gave Edinburgh an early lead, before the hosts were awarded a penalty try after a solo break by Matt Scott which ended with Jack Carty frustratingly being sent to the sin bin.

From there Edinburgh took advantage of the extra man when Simon Berghan scored from short range to extend their lead.

However, Connacht’s relentless phase-play was awarded when Tiernan O’Halloran powered over on the stroke of half-time to reduce the deficit for the visitors.

When play got back under way, O’Halloran used his strength once again to good use as he registered both his and Connacht’s second try with a pick-and-go underneath the sticks.

With Connacht beginning to look more threatening Edinburgh hit back through prop Pierre Schoeman’s score, before Duhan van der Merwe claimed the all-important bonus-point try for the Scottish club.

A flurry of yellow cards towards the end to Edinburgh’s Eroni Sau and Nick Haining and Connacht’s Eoghan Masterson and Conor Fitzgerald ensured a frenetic finish with Cockerill’s men closing the game out with their second penalty try.

For Connacht a tricky assignment away to the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth awaits before the next home game against Scarlets on the 20th of March – Tickets available here.

Connacht Scorers:

Tries – Tiernan O’Halloran (2)

Conversions – Jack Carty (2)

(15-9): Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb (Tom Daly), John Porch, Jack Carty (Conor Fitzgerald), Kieran Marmion (Caolin Blade) (1-8): Denis Buckley (Paddy McAllister), Shane Delahunt (Jonny Murphy), Finlay Bealham (Dominic Robertson McCoy), Niall Murray (Eoghan Masterson), Joe Maksymiw, Paul Boyle (Eoin McKeon), Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).

 

Dr. Jean Côté is professor and Director in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University at Kingston (Canada).
 
Dr. Côté has published more than 130 refereed papers and delivered 50 keynote address at major national and international conferences in the ares of children in sport, coaching, positive youth development, and sport expertise.
 
Now, the world-renowned academic will be sharing his expertise with parents, teachers and coaches in Connacht in a seminar entitled “Redefining Success in Coaching”.
 
The event will examine a dynamic and comprehensive approach to short and long-term Athlete Development. This includes:

  • Research and case studies into the elements that affect athlete development
  • Identification of evidence-based principles for the optimal development of athletes
  • The role of parents, coaches & the club/school in developing better people (not just better players)
  • How to keep children interested in rugby and develop personal assets.


 
Connacht Rugby are delighted to welcome a speaker of Dr. Côté’s calibre to the West of Ireland and would highly encourage all parents, coaches and teachers to avail of the opportunity to gain some insights.
 
The event takes place at 7.30pm on Tuesday 24th March in GMIT and registration costs just €10 which you can complete below.
 
Please note we are expecting a large crowd so early registration to guarantee entry is recommended.
 
For further details you can contact our Coach Development Manager Eamonn Molloy at [email protected].
 

Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend has made four changes to his starting team to face Edinburgh in the Guinness PRO14 at Murrayfield on Friday (Kick off 7:35pm).
 
With Dave Heffernan and Ultan Dillane unavailable due to international duty and Gavin Thornbury picking up an injury last weekend, all four changes come in the forward pack that dominated Cardiff last time out.
 
In the front row, prop Denis Buckley and hooker Shane Delahunt are the two new faces with tighthead Finlay Bealham retained from the Cardiff game, while in the second row, Joe Maksymiw and Niall Murray both come into the starting team.
 
The back row does remain unchanged with Paul Boyle and Colby Fainga’a at blindside and openside respectively and captain Jarrad Butler at number 8.
 
There are no changes in the backs which means that Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion continue their half-back partnership, while in midfield Kyle Godwin and Peter Robb will hope to make a big impact against the conference rivals.
 
The side is completed by a back three that includes Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back and Niyi Adeolokun and John Porch on the wings.
 
Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “We put in a good performance against Cardiff, but we know there are still areas for improvement and Edinburgh in Murrayfield are a different prospect this week. They have set the pace in our conference and are sitting top of the table. We know that results against them at home and away between now and the end of the season will have a huge bearing on our qualification prospects”.
 
“We have made four changes to our starting team from last weekend but there is still a familiar look to it. We have selected a team that we feel will challenge Edinburgh and we are looking forward to the challenge on Friday evening”, Friend added.
 
Connacht Matchday Squad V Edinburgh (Fri 21 Feb, 7:35pm)

(15-9): Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb, John Porch, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion (1-8): Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Niall Murray, Joe Maksymiw, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).

Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Paddy McAllister, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Eoghan Masterson, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Daly.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has named the match day 23 to travel to London to take on England at Twickenham on Sunday 23rd February.
 
Captain Johnny Sexton is named in the half-backs alongside Conor Murray. Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw start their ninth Test match as the midfield partnership.
 
Jordan Larmour lines out at fullback with Andrew Conway and Jacob Stockdale on the wings.
 
Cian Healy, Rob Herring and Tadhg Furlong start a third consecutive Test match with Iain Henderson and James Ryan in the row. CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony and Josh van der Flier make up the backrow combination.
 
The replacements on Saturday are Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Caelan Doris, John Cooney, Ross Byrne and Keith Earls.
 
Tom O Toole and Will Addison will return to Ulster to prepare for their Guinness PRO14 game against the Cheetahs with the rest of the non-matchday 23 remaining in camp for the team’s final training session on Friday.
 
England v IRELAND, Twickenham Stadium, Sunday 23rd February 2020, KO 15.00
2020 Guinness Six Nations Championships
 
15. Jordan Larmour (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 23 caps
14. Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 20 caps
13. Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 42 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 25 caps
11. Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 27 caps
10. Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 90 caps CAPTAIN
9. Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 80 caps

1. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 97 caps
2. Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 10 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 43 caps
4. Iain Henderson (Academy/Ulster) 55 caps
5. James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 25 caps
6. Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 66 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 25 caps
8. CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 40 caps

Replacements:
16. Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster) 2 caps
17. Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 38 caps
18. Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 25 caps
19. Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 69 caps
20. Caelan Doris (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 1 cap
21. John Cooney (Terenure College/Ulster) 10 caps
22. Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 5 caps
23. Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 83 caps

Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce that scrum-half Caolin Blade and winger Matt Healy have both signed two-year contract extensions that will keep them at the Sportsground until the end of the 2021/22 season.
 
Connacht native Caolin Blade came through the club structures in the province, playing for his local club Monivea RFC and from there went on to join the Connacht Academy. The 25-year-old has now made 109 appearances in the Connacht jersey and is one of only two Connacht players to feature in all 17 of the province’s games so far this season.
 
Winger Matt Healy is Connacht’s record try scorer with a total of 55 in 136 appearances across the Guinness PRO14 and European competitions. Healy joined Connacht from Lansdowne RFC in 2012 and went on to win a PRO12 medal with Connacht in 2016. He made his international debut during the summer tour of South Africa in the same year.
 
Commenting on the latest contract signings, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “Caolin Blade and Matt Healy are two important players for us and are central to our ambitions over the coming seasons. Caolin has come through the Connacht pathway and has proven himself to be a top class player who brings huge energy to our attack. Matt Healy is another exciting player who has an excellent try scoring record in the Connacht jersey, and I think there is still more to come from him. We are delighted that both players have committed to the province for the next two seasons”.

Connacht 29

 Cardiff 0

Connacht delivered their best performance of the season so far – securing a bonus point win over conference rivals Cardiff and also managing to hold the Welsh side scorless over the eighty minutes. The result of the corresponding fixture last season secured a place in the knock out stages of the Pro14 and while there is a long way to go in this campaign, this result witnessed by 4,812 spectators in the Sportsground, could prove crucial come May.

Connacht exploded into this game and their physicality early on was a sign that Cardiff were going to have to fight on their hands if they were to get anything from the game. Jack Carty wrong footed the Cardiff defence on the ten metre line after two minutes and when he released Tiernan O’Halloran, a try looked on. Cardiff scrambled though and Connacht came away with just three points from a Carty penalty with 5 minutes on the clock.

The home side were dominating the territory in the opening quarter but a number of errors meant that it was the 27th minutes before they got on the scoresheet again. It was Dave Heffernan who collected an overthrow in the Cardiff lineout and he beat three defenders to get the opening try of the game which Jack Carty duly converted. That left Connacht 10 – 0 up at the half hour mark.

Three minutes later and more was to come for the Connacht as a clever grubber kick from Carty bounced nicely for Peter Robb and he drove over in the corner. That was to prove the final score of the opening half as Connacht held onto their 15 – 0 lead.

The initial exchanges of the second half saw Cardiff coming more and more into this game aided it must be said by a succession of penalties in their favour. A brilliant break by Denis Buckley on the 50 minute mark though dented punished Cardiff. His offload to John Porch gave the flying winger a free run in under the posts and Carty’s resulting conversion effectively ended the game as a contest due to a 22 points to nil cushion.

Any suggestion of a Cardiff comeback were completely dashed nine minutes later when Kyle Godwin intercepted a ball on his own ten metre line and raced the length of the pitch to register the bonus point that could prove crucial in deciding this conference come the end of the season.

So it finished with no score in the final quarter as the visitors failed to fire a shot. For Connacht there are away trips against Edinburgh and the Southern Kings with the Scarlets the next visitors to the Sportsground on the 20th of March – Get tickets here.

Connacht Scorers:

Tries – Dave Heffernan, Peter Robb, John Porch and Kyle Godwin

Penalties – Carty 1/1

Conversions – Carty 3/4

(15-9): Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb (60’ Tom Daly), Matt Healy, Jack (67’ Conor Fitzgerald) , Kieran Marmion (56’ Caolin Blade) (1-8): Paddy McAllister (49’ Denis Buckley), Dave Heffernan (62’ Shane Delahunt), Finlay Bealham (57’ Dominic Robertson-McCoy), Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury (35’ Joe Maksymiw), Paul Boyle (67’ Eoin McKeon), Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).

 

Ireland internationals Ultan Dillane and Dave Heffernan have returned to the Connacht starting team to face Cardiff Blues at the Sportsground on Saturday (Kick off 7:35pm).
 
The return of the duo is a timely boost to Andy Friend’s side as they prepare for a crucial inter-conference clash that could have a huge bearing on qualification for the knockout stages of the Guinness PRO14.
 
Ballina native Heffernan comes into a front row alongside props Paddy McAllister and Finlay Bealham. Dillane’s inclusion sees him line up alongside the impressive Gavin Thornbury in the second row with Quinn Roux still unavailable through injury.
 
In the back row, Captain Jarrad Butler starts at number 8 with Paul Boyle and Colby Fainga’a at blindside and openside respectively.
 
Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty continue as the half back pairing with Caolin Blade and Conor Fitzgerald available off the bench.
 
With Bundee Aki still unavailable due to international duty, Peter Robb and Kyle Godwin are selected as the midfield partnership. In the back three Tiernan O’Halloran is selected at full back with Matt Healy and John Porch on the wings.
 
Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “The break over the past few weeks has come at a good time for the squad. It allowed time for a few injuries to clear up and gave some recovery time to others that had played a lot of minutes over the 13 week block of games. They boys are ready to go now and know the importance of the next three games in the context of our season”.
 
“With Connacht and Cardiff in the same conference this game becomes even more important. A win in this game last season ultimately qualified us for the knockout stages of the Pro14 and for a spot in the Champions Cup. I’m sure they will be keen to turn the tables this season so we face a huge battle on Saturday”.
 

Connacht Matchday Squad V Cardiff Blues (Sat 15 Feb, 7:35pm)

(15-9): Tiernan O’Halloran, John Porch, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion (1-8): Paddy McAllister, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Denis Buckley, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Joe Maksymiw, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Daly.

Connacht Rugby have announced that Tom Daly, Peter Robb, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Shane Delahunt and Conor Kenny have all signed contract extensions with the province.
 
The signings come as a boost to Connacht as they continue to finalise their squad ahead of the 2020/21 season. Daly, Robb and Robertson-McCoy have all signed two-year extensions to keep them at the Sportsground until the end of the 2021/22 season, while Delahunt and Kenny have signed one-year extensions with the province.
 
Tom Daly joined Connacht in December 2018 and made his debut in the interprovincial derby with Munster in January 2019. In the 12 months since he has played over 20 times for Andy Friend’s side. Daly has previously been capped for Ireland at U20 level and is also a former captain of the Ireland Rugby 7s team.
 
Centre Peter Robb featured prominently in Connacht’s Guinness PRO12 winning season when he made 12 appearances throughout that campaign. The 25 year old has recovered from a number of recent injuries and has amassed 10 appearances so far this season.
 
Dominic Robertson-McCoy is now in his fourth season with Connacht. The New Zealand born Irish-qualified tighthead has made 50 appearances in the Connacht jersey – 16 of them coming in the current campaign.
 
Shane Delahunt joined Connacht through the Academy in 2014 and made his debut for the province in September of that year. The 26 year old also featured in Connacht’s Championship winning season in 2015/16 while still an academy player. He has a total of 74 appearances for Connacht.
 
Conor Kenny is another player to have come through the Connacht Academy, playing his club rugby with Buccaneers RFC and Connacht Schools with Garbally College where he won a Senior Cup medal in 2015. He has made 5 appearances in the Connacht senior side so far this season.
 
Commenting on the latest contract extensions, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “We are delighted to have Tom Daly, Peter Robb, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Shane Delahunt and Conor Kenny all signing contract extensions with Connacht. During our Champions Cup and PRO14 campaigns we have already seen the depth we need in the squad to perform on two fronts. We expect to have more announcements in the coming weeks as we are working to finalise our squad going into the 2020/21 season”.

Connacht Rugby is delighted to announce that the Connacht Rugby U17 squad will play Rugby United New York (RUNY) on Sunday, 15th March as part of a Tour to New York this March.
 
The game, which will take place at MCU Park, Brooklyn, will precede the RUNY v Seattle Seawolves MLR fixture.
 
The team, who are led by coaching team Gavin Foley and JP Walsh and team manager Richard Doyle, will make the trip along with a Connacht Rugby contingent who will undertake several activities to engage with the Irish diaspora and the rugby community of the Tri-State region.
 
“We’re very excited to be welcoming Connacht Rugby to New York for our season opener against Seattle Seawolves,” shared Simon Gillespie, Academy Director at Rugby United New York. “We hope to use this opportunity to launch our RUNY High School All-Star program and showcase the best of local talent in New York against a Tier 1 club pathway players.”
 
A reception, ‘An Evening with Connacht Rugby’, will be held on Monday, 16th March at Bank of Ireland’s Innovation Lab, 2 Grand Central Tower, NY 10017. Former Irish internationals Eric Elwood and Gavin Duffy will be amongst the panellists on the night. To register for this event please visit www.iibn.com.
 
The tour will be rounded off by the squad’s partaking in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the young players who will be greeted by an audience of almost 2 million spectators along the streets of Manhattan.
 
Commenting ahead of the trip, CEO of Connacht Rugby Willie Ruane said: “This tour will provide our U17 squad with an immense opportunity to grow as rugby players on and off the field under our vision of ‘Grassroots to Green Shirts’. We are delighted to be undertaking this trip and look forward to meeting those at Rugby United New York and members of the Irish diaspora next month.”

Connacht Rugby will host a Coaching 7’s workshop on Monday 24th February at the Sportsground.
 
The IRFU’s Head of Coach Education Matt Wilkie will lead attendees through both theory and practical elements of the game.
 
Wilkie, brings a wealth of experience from his with with the Australian Rugby Union and he has worked very closely with both the Men’s and Women’s National 7’s teams since his arrival in Ireland.
 
“As 7’s is still in its early stages of growth in Ireland it offers a huge opportunity for coaches. Coaches we send to tournaments with our clubs or provincial teams are immediately under the eye of the national management”, according to Coach Development Manager, Eamonn Molloy.
 
Coaching 7’s Masterclass
Monday 24th February @ 7pm
Sportsground, Galway
 
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER
 

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