Connacht 15-8 Worcester Warriors

Connacht made it to two wins from two in the Challenge Cup thanks to a hard-fought victory over Premiership side Worcester Warriors at the Sportsground.

Eoghan Masterson, captaining Connacht for the first time, scored a first-half try in a Man of the Match performance with Matt Healy scoring his 15th European try for the province.

Jack Carty kicked a penalty and conversion to clinch the victory.

Worcester won the coin toss and elected to play against the very strong wind that was blowing from the Bohermore Terrace end so the onus was on Connacht to build a lead in the first 40.

The first try was brilliantly taken as Connacht perfectly executed a backline move off a scrum on halfway.

The ball was passed right and full-back Tiernan O’Halloran joined the line as the extra man and sprinted through a gap before feeding Darragh Leader in support.

The winger was brought down just short but the ball was recycled quickly for Masterson to crash over.

Carty was off target with the conversion and Connacht led 5-0 as injuries to James Connolly and Eoin Griffin forced Kieran Keane into two first-half changes with Jarrad Butler and Craig Ronaldson joining the fray.

The hosts spent the remainder of the opening half camped in Worcester territory but the Premiership side were defending doggedly although Carty did get off the mark on 21 minutes as he landed a superb long range penalty to make it 8-0.

Despite dominating possession and territory, Connacht were unable to add any more points before the interval with handling errors proving costly in the very blustery conditions.

The second half was always going to be an uphill struggle against the wind and two more enforced changes, due to injuries to Dominic Robertson-McCoy and Quinn Roux, hardly helped matters.

Despite those setbacks, Connacht enjoyed a strong start after the break but Warriors’ David Denton broke through midfield to set up winger Josh Adams to dive over in the left corner on 52 minutes to reduce the Connacht lead to just three.

The pivotal moment arrived just before the hour as Carty chipped through a gap in midfield and Healy pounced on the bouncing ball to race in under the posts.

No better moment for his 15th European try having become Connacht’s top try-scorer in Europe after touching down twice away to Oyonnax last week. Carty added the simple conversion and the hosts led 15-5.

Worcester battled back and reduced the arrears to just seven points thanks to a Jonathan Lance penalty but the Connacht defence held firm for a valuable victory.

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran (Cian Kelleher, 56), Darragh Leader, Bundee Aki, Eoin Griffin (Craig Ronaldson, 28 inj), Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade (Kieran Marmion, 55); Denis Buckley (Peter McCabe, 73), Dave Heffernan (Shane Delahunt, 55), Dominic Robertson-McCoy (Conor Carey, 43 inj); Quinn Roux (Cillian Gallagher, 49), James Cannon, Eoin McKeon, James Connolly (Jarrad Butler, 3 inj), Eoghan Masterson (Capt).

Worcester Warriors: Chris Pennell; Tom Howe, Wynand Olivier, Jackson Willison, Josh Adams; Jono Lance, Jonny Arr; Ethan Waller, Jack Singleton, Gareth Milasinovich; Pierce Phillips, Will Spencer; David Denton, Alafoti Faosiliva, GJ van Velze (Capt).

Replacements: Matti Williams, Ryan Bower, Simon Kerrod, Donncha O’Callaghan, Huw Taylor, Michael Dowsett, Sam Olver, Perry Humphreys.


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