Connacht ran in five tries passed visiting French side Bayonne in round 3 of the European Challenge Cup tonight to ensure that Pat Lam’s men remain undefeated at the Sportsground this season.

Danie Poolman (2), Bundee Aki, Dave McSharry and WIllie Faloon all crossed the whitewash while Carty kicked 15 points from the kicking tee in difficult weather conditions in Galway. Replacement outhalf Craig Ronaldson added a conversion of his own late into the second half.

Connacht are now sitting in second place in pool 2 – 1 point behind Exeter Chiefs – and travel to the French town of Bayonne for round 4 next Saturday.

Bayonne’s Martin Bustos Moyano kicked his side to an early lead with a penalty on five minutes after he had missed his opening shot at goals two minutes previously.

Carty responded immediately with a penalty of his own to level the scores but the French fullback, with the wind at his back, kicked two more between the posts before Man of the Match Danie Poolman crossed for the opening try of the game on 20 minutes.

A 5m lineout set up a brilliant maul and the ball went to the back line as the South African winger ran a brilliant line to take the pass inside him and dive over. Carty added the conversion to put his side one-point ahead.

Bayonne went ahead again five minutes later with a Bustos Moyano penalty when the hosts were penalised for coming in at the side of the ruck. Carty had a chance to respond but into the wind, his kick was wayward.  But just before the break a Connacht lineout on the Bayonne 22 set up the platform for an impressive maul and Connacht charged towards the line. The ball was popped out to the backline and through the hands of Carty, Aki and McSharry who spotted Poolman again in space to run over for his fifth try of the season. Carty looked to have the accuracy with his conversion attempt but the wind held up the ball.

Half time: Connacht 15 – 12 Bayonne

Bayonne remained determined in the second half and started to probe the Connacht defence almost immediately from the restart. From a lineout drive, tighthead Florian Lapeyrade got over for his side’s only try of the night, which replacement outhalf Clement Otazo converted.

But from there, Connacht were the more clinical side and made the most of their opportunities. Kieran Marmion’s high box kick on the hour mark fell loose on the edge of the 22 and Aki gratefully picked up to run in his first try in a Connacht shirt. Ten minutes later, the bonus point was secured following another powerful lineout and driving maul. The ball went back to Carty who fed McSharry to dive over beside the posts.

With the four tries coming from the backs, replacement flanker Willie Faloon claimed the fifth score from a maul in the corner, with seven minutes remaining on the board. Ronaldson, only just on the pitch, kicked the extras.

Full time: Connacht 42 – 19 Bayonne

Referee: Matthew Carley

Man of the Match: Danie Poolman

Attendance: 4, 425


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