A breathless game of the rugby at the RDS as Leinster claim the spoils past the 80th minute despite a brilliant performance by Andy Friend’s men, who come away with two bonus points.
 
Here are some of the best pics:

MATCH REPORT WITH THANKS TO THE GUINNESS PRO14.
 
Leinster denied Connacht a first away victory in Dublin since 2002 as Leo Cullen’s men staged a late rally to battle back from 17 points down to win 33-29.
 
Andrew Porter fought his way over the line in the 82nd minute to prevent Andy Friend’s men from earning only a second ever victory in the capital since 1955.
 
Leinster had won eight of their last nine meetings, but 14 points from Jack Carty looked to have swung the tie in the favour of the Galway side before Porter was at hand to break Connacht hearts.
 
With Leinster shuffling their pack after their Champions Cup travels, Connacht looked the more fluid of the two sides early on and they took advantage thanks to the dab hand of an ex-Leinsterman.
 
Bundee Aki drew the Leinster pack, before switching the ball wide right leaving Cian Kelleher to slide across the whitewash for an early lead inside six minutes.
 
But Leinster hit back when Rob Kearney burst his way through to set up Jamison Gibson-Park, who found a gap and expertly threaded in Conor O’Brien to score his third try of the season.
 
Connacht continued to threaten, and they made it count when Tom Farrell’s pass was dispatched to Darragh Leader and on only his second Guinness PRO14 appearance he evaded two thunderous challenges to dive into the corner and score. Jack Carty kicked for two.
 
When Connacht turned over possession, it enabled the visitors to stretch their advantage when Carty sumptuously chipped over the Leinster backs before catching the ball and diving over to score.
 
The fly-half converted his try seven minutes before the break to send the western Ireland side into half-time with a 19-7 lead at the RDS Arena.
 
Leinster roared out the blocks after the break and within minutes they were chipping away at the scoreboard as Mick Kearney scrapped his way to the line for his first ever try for the men in blue.
 
But Connacht weren’t initially fazed, especially half back Carty who dazzled his way through a slim gap in the line before showing the presence of mind to lay in Caolin Blade to score a bonus point. Carty duly converted.
 
Carty sent the Galway men two converted tries clear with a penalty 16 minutes from time, but the hosts didn’t give in easily as replacement Sean Cronin powered his way over to set up a grandstand finish. Ross Byrne added the extras.
 
Then when Connacht were unable to clear their lines, Leinster broke and Dan Leavy snuck across the line to cut the deficit to only three points.
 
Drama ensued as relentless Leinster pressure eventually told as Porter summoned all his muscle to throw himself over the try line and seal a dramatic win.

MATCH REPORT WITH THANKS TO THE EPCR
 
Connacht Rugby scored five tries as they gave their Challenge Cup Pool 3 qualification hopes a boost with an away bonus point victory over Perpignan.
 
Julien Farnoux opened the scoring for the home side with an early try, while Paddy Jackson kicked a penalty to put the French side 8-0 up.
 
But that was as good as it got for them, with a brace from Sean O’Brien and a sole score from David Heffernan pushing the Irish province 22-8 up at the interval.
 
Two quick fire tries from Manu Leiataua and Tima Fainga’anuku gave Perpignan hope at the start of the second half, but that was extinguished when Adrea Cocagi was sent off for the home side on 58 minutes.
 
From then, Connacht dominated and added further tries through Matt Healy and Cian Kelleher to put the gloss on a terrific away performance.
 
Perpignan host Bordeaux-Begles in Round 5, while Connacht take on Sale Sharks in what could prove to be a Pool 3 decider at The Sportsground.

Check out all the highlights from yesterday’s bonus point win over Southern Kings in the Guinness PRO14.

Connacht secured a bonus point win over the Southern kings in Port Elizabeth on the first leg of their tour to South Africa.
 
With two converted tries, a penalty try and a penalty from the boot of Man of the Match Jack Carty, Connacht looked likely to overcome their hosts by the 40 minute mark.
 
Carty opened the scoring with a straightforward penalty after six minutes and his cross field kick four minutes later was collected by Cian Kelleher in the corner before improving the angle and touching down. Carty’s conversion left Connacht 10 point to no score up after 10 minutes.
 
The Kings were next to score when the broke through the defensive line and went in under the posts against the run of play. After this Connacht were completely dominant up front and were rewarded on twenty seven minutes with a penalty try. Kings also had a man in the bin at this stage after Luphumlo Mguca was penalised.
 
On the stroke of half time, Connacht’s record try scorer Matt Healy got in in the corner for the best try of the game. With Connacht leading 24 points to 7 at the break, an upset looked unlikely.
 
The second half was a tough affair with the Kings giving themselves some hope with a try from Ntabeni Dukisa on 50 minutes but credit to Connacht they held the South Africans out for the remainder.
Ten minutes later Caolinn Blade slipped a beautiful pass to Paul Boyle who got in under the posts to put the game beyond doubt. David Horwitz’s conversion on sixty one minutes was to prove the final score of the game as Connacht ran out 17 point winners.
 
It’s onto Bloemfontein for the winners and another tough assignment against the Cheetahs.
 
Connacht scorers:

Tries: Cian Kelleher, Penalty try, Matt Healy, Paul Boyle
Conversions: Jack Carty [2 from 2], David Horwitz [1 from 1]
Penalties: Jack Carty [1 from 1]
 
Southern Kings scorers:

Tries: Masixole Banda, Ntabeni Dukisa
Conversions: Masixole Banda [2 from 2]

Back row Robin Copeland is set to make his Connacht debut as Andy Friend’s side take on Scarlets in the Guinness PRO14 in the Sportsground on Saturday (Kick off 5:15pm).

Copeland’s inclusion is one of six changes to the Connacht side that took on Edinburgh last weekend. Irish International Bundee Aki is also included in the starting XV having come off the bench in Murrayfield to make his first appearance of the season. Aki forms a midfield partnership with Tom Farrell who returns after recovering from a stomach bug that ruled him out last weekend.

Winger Cian Kelleher is named on the wing and is part of a back three that includes Matt Healy on the opposite wing and Tiernan O’Halloran at full back.

Prop Denis Buckley is back in at loosehead to make his third start of the season while Gavin Thornbury is named alongside Quinn Roux in the second row.

Copeland’s inclusion at number 8 sees him named in a back row that also features team captain Jarrad Butler at openside and blindside Sean O’Brien.

Commenting on Copeland’s impending debut, Head Coach Andy Friend said: “We have been really impressed with Robin in the pre-season both on and off the field. His energy and maturity have been a big addition to the wider group. He played 40 minutes for the Eagles side last weekend and he came through that ok after a niggly injury, so he is good to go for Scarlets”.

With last season’s finalists Scarlets and Leinster visiting the Sportsground over the next two weekends, Friend said: “Scarlets are a quality side and we expect a huge challenge from them. They are one of the top teams in this competition, so it is a massive game for us. We have a really healthy competition in our squad at the moment and that is exactly what we need as the big games keep coming”.

 

#CONvSCA

Kick-off 5:15pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Sean O’Brien, Jarrad Butler, Robin Copeland.

Replacements (16-23): Tom McCartney, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Colby Fainga’a, Caolin Blade, Craig Ronaldson, Niyi Adeolokun.

Connacht 26

Glasgow Warriors 27

 

Connacht’s opening game of the Guinness PRO14 season ended in a one point defeat after Glasgow full back Stuart Hogg kicked a dramatic drop goal at the death of an exciting opening game of the season.

 

Glasgow got off to the best possible start with a try inside the opening two minutes when Tommy Seymour touched down after clever play from Hogg. Minutes later Jack Carty settled Connacht nerves with a penalty just outside the 22 to the right of the posts.

 

This was followed by an outstanding try from Cian Kelleher who was picked out perfectly with a cross field kick from Carty. Having taken the lead through Kelleher’s converted try, Connacht’s lead was to be short lived as Glasgow hooker George Turner found a gap and capitalised to get in for their second try of the game.

 

Connacht responded again with a well worked team try finished by Finlay Bealham and converted by Carty who had 16 points on the board when the teams retired for half team with Connacht leading 23 points to 17.

 

Early in the second half, Carty added another penalty and Connacht went into a nine point lead. Crucially they would not score again for the rest of the game. Glasgow continually applied the pressure in the second half and it looked like Connacht would hold on for victory when Adam Hastings was yellow carded for a high tackle on Caolin Blade.

 

With the out half in the bin it was Glasgow who capitalised on the scoreboard when Adam Ashe got over thanks to a driving maul. Hogg’s conversion left two points between the sides and his drop goal moments later won it for the visitors.

 

Craig Ronaldson did have one last chance penalty from a long distance out but with 81 minutes on the clock his effort shaved the post and there was time for no more.

 

Despite the narrow loss, Connacht have many positives to take from a game where fans in the Sportsground were treated to some really attacking and exciting rugby. Zebre are next up in the Sportsground on Saturday 8th of September.

CONNACHT – T O’Halloran (N Adeolokun 53), C Kelleher, K Godwin, T Farrell, M Healy, J Carty (C Ronaldson 67), C Blade (J Mitchell 75), D Buckley (P McCabe 53), D Heffernan (S Delahunt 75), F Bealham (C Carey 56), U Dillane, J Cannon (Q Roux 48), P Boyle, J Butler (Capt), E McKeon (C Gallagher 14).

 

GLASGOW WARRIORS – S Hogg, T Seymour, N Grigg, P Horne, DTH van der Merwe (N Matawalu 53), A Hastings, G Horne (N Frisby 48), O Kebble (A Allan 56), G Turner (F Brown48), Z Fagerson (D Rae 72) S Cummings (C Fusaro 52), J Gray, R Harley, C Gibbins, R Wilson (A Ashe 63).

 

New Connacht signing Kyle Godwin is set to make his Connacht debut as Andy Friend’s side take on Glasgow Warriors in the Sportsground in the opening game of their Guinness PRO14 campaign on Saturday (Kick Off 3pm – Live on TG4).

Godwin forms a midfield partnership with last season’s Connacht Fans’ Player of the Season, Tom Farrell. 

The back line also includes the ever present Tiernan O’Halloran at full back with Connacht’s record try scorer Matt Healy and Cian Kelleher on the wings. 

In the front row, Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham start at loosehead and tighthead respectively with Mayo native Dave Heffernan given the nod at hooker. 

Meanwhile in the back row, newly appointed captain Jarrad Butler is selected at openside with Academy player Paul Boyle named at blindside after impressive performances in the pre-season fixtures. 

After three wins from three in the pre-season, Head Coach Andy Friend knows there will be bigger challenges ahead, starting with the visit of Glasgow; “We’ve had three good pre-season games. You don’t win championships in pre-season, but you can lose them. We’re at the start line in pretty good shape but it’s what we do from here that’s important”, Friend said.

“We are expecting a massive challenge from Glasgow on Saturday afternoon. They got off to a roaring start in last year’s campaign and I have no doubt they will be looking to do something similar this season. They have great strength and depth in their squad so it going to be a big challenge. I have heard so much about the atmosphere that our fans create in the Sportsground and I can’t wait to experience it on Saturday”, he added. 

#CONvGLA

Kick-off 3pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Kyle Godwin, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Paul Boyle, Jarrad Butler, Eoin McKeon.

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, Cillian Gallagher, James Mitchell, Craig Ronaldson, Niyi Adeolokun. 

The Connacht management team have named the starting XV to face Bristol Bears in tomorrow’s pre-season friendly at Ashton Gate (k/o 7.45pm).

 

There are five changes from the team that beat Wasps in Athlone last week, with Robin Copeland making his first appearance for the province at number 8. The other change in the back-row sees James Connolly come into the starting lineup where he’ll play alongside Paul Boyle.

 

The front row is unchanged with Dave Heffernan captaining the team alongside Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham, while in the second row Ultane Dillane starts with James Cannon.

 

There’s a new half-back pairing with James Mitchell named at scrum-half with Jack Carty beside him, and the only other change sees Tiernan O’Halloran start at full-back while Cian Kelleher moves to the wing. Matt Healy, Kyle Godwin and Tom Farrell make up the rest of the backline.

 

 

Tomorrow’s game is the squad’s final pre-season encounter before the opening Guinness PRO14 tie at home to Glasgow on Saturday 1st September (k/o 3.00pm). The game is the first of four in The Sportsground during the month of September, and tickets for the Month Of Champions are now on sale at connachtrugby.ie/tickets.

Connacht’s impressive pre-season campaign continued at a warm Dubarry Park on Saturday as the side secured a seven-try victory over Wasps.

Andy Friend’s squad were looking to build on their win over Brive in France last weekend, and they did just that with a display that will no doubt please the new head coach.

With the squad continue an attacking, free-flowing running game of the last 12 months, both the scoreline and manner in which the tries were scored will surely give the team plenty of cause for optimism ahead of their opening Guinness PRO14 game against Glasgow in two weeks time.

The first of those came on the 12th minute mark when a clever move from scrum-half Caolin Blade released Matt Healy down the left-wing, and with the Wasps defence stretched Jack Carty found Tom Farrell who touched down underneath the posts.

Wasps got off the mark with a penalty moments later, but that turned out to be their only score until the last few minutes as Connacht began to dominate.

They gained a deserved 11 point lead at the break when the Farrell and Healy combo struck again – this time Farrell turning creator as broke through the middle and found Connacht’s all-time try scorer waiting on the wing.

The impressive Jack Carty almost made it try number three with the last play of the half, just stepping into touch in the corner as he attempted to gather his own grubber kick.

However that third try was to arrive shortly after the restart when Caolin Blade’s quick tap penalty brought them up to the Wasps 22, and Niyi Adeolokun acted as scrum-half to find Cian Kelleher to score his fourth try in two pre-season games.

The win was all but secured with try number four which was arguably the best of the bunch. Replacement out-half Craig Ronaldson released Adeolokun with a brilliant no-look pass, allowing the winger to use his pace down the middle to score.

Two more tries were to follow in the next 10 minutes – firstly through Rory Scholes out wide and James Mitchell down the centre after good work from the Connacht maul.

Wasps bagged a consolation in the closing minutes, but it was Connacht who had the final say when substitute Conor Carey powered over.

With two wins from two and 76 points on the board it’s been a great start to the Andy Friend era, while there were also impressive performances from new signings Kyle Godwin and Joe Maksymiw.

They’ll be hoping that run of form continues when the squad travel to Bristol for their final pre-season game on Friday night.

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