Connacht 41
Benetton 5
 
Connacht secured a bonus point win over Italian side Benetton in their first home game of the Pro14 season. In a game that the home side dominated in all areas, they never looked like losing when they Kyle Godwin races into the corner to score the opening try after seven minutes.
 
That opening try was preceded by a penalty after three minutes from the boot of Conor Fitzgerald who controlled the game throughout with the aid of a powerful Connacht pack. That early lead gave Connacht huge confidence and after twenty minutes the attack was in full flow as the home side delivered another killer blow with Caolin Blade’s first of two tries.
 
By now the Connacht pack was completely dominant and the rolling maul was used to great effect resulting in a  Tom McCartney try. With 15 minutes to half time Connacht went in search of the bonus point try but Benetton did manage to hold them out by forcing a turnover on the stroke of half time albeit after giving away a succession of penalties.
 
With a 22 – 0 lead at half time, the result was never in question and it seemed inevitable that Connacht would drive on.
 
The home side didn’t have long to wait long in the second half as Caolin Blade picked up the ball at the base of a ruck on the Benetton 22. He showed a clean pair of heals to round three Italian defenders and touch down with the best try of the game.
 
Three minutes later Tom McCartney added his second and it was one way traffic from there. Kieran Marmion wrapped up the win with Connacht’s sixth try of the evening with four minutes remaining.
 
Next up for Connacht is an away trip to Dragons next weekend.
 
Connacht Scorers:
Tries: Caolin Blade x 2, Tom McCartney x 2, Kyle Godwin 1, Kieran Marmion 1.
Penalties Conor Fitzgerald 1
Conversions – Conor Fitzgerald x 3 Kyle Godwin 1
 
Connacht Team:
(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Stephen Fitzgerald (John Porch), Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Conor Fitzgerald (Tom Farrell), Caolin Blade (Kieran Marmion), (1-8) Paddy McAllister (Denis Buckley), Tom McCartney (Shane Delahunt) Finlay Bealham (Dominic Robertson McCoy), Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux (Ultan Dillane), Eoghan Masterson (Sean Masterson), Jarrad Butler (Capt), Paul Boyle.

Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend has made three changes to the Connacht starting team for the visit of Benetton to the Sportsground on Saturday (Kick Off 7:35pm).
 
Darragh Leader, Peter Robb and Paul Boyle all come into the side as Connacht hope to bounce back from a defeat away to Scarlets on the opening day of the season.
 
Leader’s inclusion on the wing sees him come into a back three with Matt Healy on the opposite wing and Tiernan O’Halloran at full back, while Robb will form a midfield partnership with Kyle Godwin.
 
Conor Fitzgerald and Caolin Blade will continue their half-back partnership with Kieran Marmion named among the replacements.
 
Paul Boyle at number 8 is the only change among the forwards with Captain Jarrad Butler named at openside and Eoghan Masterson at blindside. Masterson’s brother Sean is named among the replacements, with the 21 year old Academy player set for his senior debut having impressed for the Connacht Eagles in their five wins so far in the Celtic Cup.
 
The front five remains unchanged with Paddy McAllister retained after his debut against Scarlets in a front row that includes hooker Tom McCartney and Finlay Bealham at tighthead. The side is completed with locks Gavin Thornbury and Quinn Roux.
 
Speaking ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “While we were disappointed with the result last weekend, there is huge anticipation among the squad for our first home game of the season. We have set some really ambitious targets for the season ahead, particularly around our home form. A packed Sportsground is a very difficult place for away teams to come and I expect a great atmosphere when we face Benetton on Saturday evening”.
 
Commenting on his team selection, Friend added: “We have made three changes to our starting team from last weekend. Some of those were down to one or two injuries we picked up and some are down to the depth we have in the squad. We are prepared for a long season where we will need a large squad of players to compete in the Pro14 and European competitions. This week we have named Sean Masterson among the replacements. He is an excellent young back row who has impressed already for the Connacht Eagles side. I’m confident that he is ready for that step up to Pro14 rugby this weekend”.
 
 
Connacht Matchday Squad:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Darragh Leader, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Paddy McAllister, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler (Capt), Paul Boyle.

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Denis Buckley, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Sean Masterson, Kieran Marmion, Tom Farrell, Stephen Fitzgerald.

Connacht trained at The Sportsground this morning as they look to put last weekend’s defeat to Scarlets behind them when they face Benetton in Galway this weekend.
 
The game is Connacht’s first of 10 home ties in the Guinness PRO14 this season, and comes against the Italian outfit who are also rivals in Conference B.
 
Don’t forget Season Tickets are still on sale, but we recommend you buying one before the weekend to ensure you get best value for the ticket.
 
Check out some of the best pics from this morning’s session.
 


 
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After five long months, Guinness PRO14 rugby returns to The Sportsground this Saturday when Connacht host Benetton in our first home game of the season.
 
Here’s everything you need to know about the game.
 
When’s the game?

Kick-off at the Sportsground is at 7.35pm this Saturday 5th October.
 
What’s the state of play so far?

With just one game gone not a lot has happened so far! Benetton, who are one of Connacht’s conference rivals this season, picked up a losing bonus point at home to Leinster last weekend, meaning they’re slightly ahead of Connacht after the loss to Scarlets last weekend.
 
How’s our recent record against them?

The two sides last met in March when Connacht recorded a 29-14 bonus point win, a result that turned out to be crucial in their qualification to the Guinness PRO14 playoffs.

In fact Connacht have won their last four games against the Italian outfit, with Benetton last coming out on top in the penultimate regular season game in 2015/16.
 
How will the two teams line up?

The Connacht management team will announce their squad at 12pm on Friday when it will be named on connachtrugby.ie and the Connacht Rugby social channels.
 
Are tickets still available?

Yes tickets are available in the Main Stand and Bohermore & College Road Ends. 2019/20 Season Tickets are also available, so this is your last chance to get the full value of the ticket with access to all 13 Guinness PRO14 and Heineken Champions Cup games at The Sportsground.
 
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What if I can’t make the game?

There will be live TV coverage on TG4 with the build-up beginning at 7.15pm, while Galway Bay FM will also have live radio commentary.
 
How can I get there?

There is plenty of car parks within walking distance to The Sportsground, all of which are listed below. Please note that local restrictions will be in place so please respect our neighbours at all times.


 
Anything else I should know?

The 2020 Connacht Junior Cup draw will take place in the Heineken Rugby Clubhouse at 6.45pm prior to kick-off. Before the game will we also hear pitchside from Fergus ‘Gussie’ Farrell, a former Connacht underage player who is undertaking a major fundraising activity later in the month for the National Rehabilitation Centre. You can read Fergus’s incredible story HERE.

Connacht are another step closer to the Guinness PRO14 playoffs and with it a place in the Heineken Champions Cup after a second straight bonus point win at The Sportsground.
 
An impressive 29-14 win over in-form Benetton means they remain ahead of the Cardiff Blues on points difference in 3rd place with just three games to go.
 
One of those three games will see the two sides face off in the penultimate round on Saturday April 13th – arguably the biggest game to hit the Sportsground since the PRO12 victory in 2016.
 
For now check out some of the best pics from last night’s win.
 

The countdown is continuing to Friday’s huge Guinness PRO14 meeting with Benetton as Connacht aim to take another step closer to the playoffs, and with it a place in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup.
 
Ahead of the game scrum-half Caolin Blade, fresh off a stint in the Ireland squad during the Six Nations, spoke to the media at the pre-match press conference which you can watch below.
 
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The Connacht squad are well into preparations for Friday’s huge Guinness PRO14 meeting with Conference B high-flyers Benetton at The Sportsground.
 
With just four games remaining in the league campaign, every point will be crucial in the race for the playoffs with just points difference separating ourselves and the Cardiff Blues.
 
This morning the squad trained at the College Road venue, and you can check out all the best pics below.
 
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After a short break while the Six Nations come to a conclusion, the big games are again on the horizon for Connacht as the league stage of the Guinness PRO14 reaches its conclusion over the coming month.
 
The squad are on a high after a huge 46-5 win over Ospreys last time out, so they’ll be looking to pick up where they left off when Conference B high-flyers Benetton come to visit the West of Ireland this weekend.
 
Here’s all you need to know about another huge fixture for the team.
 
When’s the game?
In a change from the norm this season the game is a Friday night kick-off, with the action getting underway at 7.35pm at The Sportsground.
 
What do I need to know about our opponents?
Benetton have arguably been one of the Guinness PRO14’s most in-form sides. The Italian outfit sit in 2nd place in Conference A and are on an unbeaten run in the competition stretching back to the end of November. Among those fixtures were victories over both Scottish teams, a win at home to Scarlets and a draw in Kingspan Stadium against Ulster.
 
How’s our recent record against them?
Connacht have won the last 3 games when the two sides have met and 7 of the last 9 stretching back to the start of the 2013/14 season. Our last meeting took place in February 2018 when tries from Finlay Bealham, Jarrad Butler and Eoin Griffin gave a 22-19 win.
 

 
How will they line up?
Andy Friend has been been boosted by the return of a number of five players who featured in the Ireland squad during various rounds of the Guinness Six Nations. Internationals Ultan Dillane, Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty are in the matchday 23 while there are also starts for Caolin Blade and Jack Carty.
 

How important is the game in terms of the overall season?
In a word…very! With just 4 games remaining in the league campaign Connacht sit in the final playoff spot, with just points difference separating ourselves and the Cardiff Blues. Every point will be crucial in the race for Champions Cup qualification, especially with the Blues visiting the Sportsground on Saturday 13th April.
 
A win will bring us one step closer to a return to the playoffs, so the players will be looking for all the support they can get to help them on their way.
 
Where can I buy tickets?
A very small number of tickets remain available in the Main Stand where tickets are also on sale in the Grant Thornton Seated Stand and the Bohermore Terrace. The cheapest tickets can be bought online in advance HERE.
 

Benetton Rugby 19 Connacht 22

A second-half revival from Connacht  saw us halt Benetton in their tracks and bring their five-game winning run to a close.

With three tries apiece there was never much between the two sides but a yellow card for Tomasso Iannone with ten minutes to play proved the catalyst for Connacht’s win.

Tito Tebaldi had given Benetton the lead late in the first half but Finlay Bealham hit back minutes after the break.

Monty Ioane extended Benetton’s lead but Jarrad Butler responded almost immediately for Connacht, with Jack Carty then kicking the penalty after Iannone’s yellow and Eoin Griffin’s score meaning Marco Fuser’s effort with the clock in the red was only good enough for a bonus point.

After early Connacht pressure the home side worked their way back into the game and, but for a fine tackle from Matt Healy in the 20th minute, Luca Sperandio would have gone in at the right corner for the opening score of the game.

The remainder was a half characterised by turnovers and stoppages for injuries, punctuated by a blitzing run from Ioane into the Connacht half.

And after several phases of play a Benetton lineout from the left set up a maul from which scrum-half Tebaldi darted over from five yards – suffering a knock to the leg in the process.

Tebaldi limped off after Marty Banks kicked the conversion the half ended with the home side seven to the good.

The second half began with Connacht pressure and a kick to the corner set up a lineout drive that saw Bealham bundle over for the score – Carty missing the conversion and the chance to level the scores with 35 minutes to play.

With the half looking to be heading the same way as the first, Banks put in a cross-field kick from his own half, which Ioane collected to run 60 yards down the left touchline for a fine score – Banks missing the tough conversion on the hour mark.

That score sparked Connacht into life and a smart offload from Cian Kelleher to Butler, for the flanker to drive home from just inside the Benetton 22 – Carty adding the extras to draw level and set up a tense final 15 minutes.

And with ten minutes to play the decisive moment came with Iannone adjudged to have performed a tip tackle on Tom Farrell, seeing him spend the rest of the match in the bin.

Carty knocked over the resultant penalty and with six minutes to play a Healy break saw him offload to Caolin Blade, before the ball found its way to Griffin for the centre to score the winning try – Carty making sure of the points with the conversion.

But Benetton still had time to claw back a losing bonus point as Fuser broke clear, with the clock in the red, to dive in under the posts – Banks knocking over the conversion to bring the game to a close.

 

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