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).

 

Connacht 7

Toulouse 21

Toulouse ran out 14 point winners in Connacht’s final home game of the current Champions Cup campaign. To be fair to the visitors they were worthy winners but they certainly didn’t get it all their own way. The French Top 14 side went down to 13 men for the final 5 minutes, but a number of Connacht errors meant that they couldn’t claw their way back into the game by that point.

It was Connacht who drew first blood when they were awarded a penalty try after a sustained period of pressure in the seventh minute. The home side also had a numerical advantage as Isoefa Tekori was shown a yellow card after a series of infringements from Toulouse. The concession of the early try though brought Toulouse to life and they began to dominate possession.

On the 20 minute the visitors had their first try when Jerome Kaino raced over with the resulting conversion bringing the sides level. While Toulouse had much of the territory, Connacht stayed in this game and it looked like they would be going in all square at the break. But Toulouse piled on the pressure and in the 38th minutes they got their second try of the game when Julien Marchand got his hands on the ball off a Toulouse maul.

The first score of the second half was always going to be crucial and so it proved as Pita Ahki raced onto a charge down that had broken behind the Connacht line. Amazingly, Thomas Ramos’ conversion in the 47th minute proved to be the final score of the game.

The big talking point of the second half was how Toulouse found themselves down to 13 men. Firstly, Yoann Huget was yellow carder for a challenge on Tiernan O’Halloran in the 71st minute and then Zach Holmes saw red for a challenge on the same player two minutes later. For Connacht though the opportunity came too late and Toulouse held on to their 14 point win.

Connacht: T O’Halloran, N Adeolokun, B Aki, P Robb, M Healy, J Carty, S Kerins, P McAllister, T McCartney, F Bealham, U Dillane, G Thornbury, P Boyle, C Fainga’a, J Butler (c). Replacements: D Heffernan, D Buckley for McAllister (57m), D Robertson-McCoy for Bealham (52), J Maksymiw for Dillane (HIA), E McKeon, C Blade for Kerins, D Horwitz, J Porch for Adeolokun (67). Yellow card: Fainga’s 16-26m.

Connacht head coach Andy Friend has recalled a host of Irish internationals for tomorrow’s crucial Heineken Champions Cup clash with Toulouse at the Sportsground (k/o 3.15pm).
 
Jack Carty and Bundee Aki are named at out-half and outside-centre respectively after sitting out the last two weeks, while there are also returns to the starting team for fellow internationals Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane and Matt Healy.
 
There’s further good news in the back-row where Jarrad Butler and Colby Fainga’a have both recovered from injury, with Butler captaining the side at number 8 and Fainga’a joined by Paul Boyle on the flanks.
 
Ultan Dillane will be partnered by Gavin Thornbury in the second row, while Paddy McAllister and Tom McCartney join Bealham in the front row to complete the pack.
 
Scrum-half Stephen Kerins is handed his first Champions Cup start, with Caolin Blade among the replacements having started the last nine games for Connacht.
 
Bundee Aki is partnered by Peter Robb in the centre, while Matt Healy is joined by winger Niyi Adeolokun and full-back Tiernan O’Halloran in the back three.
 
Commenting on today’s squad announcement, Andy Friend says:

“It’s been a difficult Christmas period for everyone, but we’ve a lot of returning players which is exactly what we need. With our captain Jarrad Butler back in the side and players like Jack and Bundee returning from their break, I believe this is a squad full of quality and experience that can win this game.”
 
Regarding tomorrow’s opponents, Friend added:

“This game is exactly what we need. We’ve got a great opportunity to come up against the French champions and challenge them in our own backyard. We know it’s a must-win tie to keep our quarter-final hopes alive, and with our home crowd behind us I know the players will relish the occasion.”
 
CONNACHT MATCHDAY SQUAD V TOULOUSE (11/1/20 @ 15:15)
15-9: Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Stephen Kerins.
1-8: Paddy McAllister, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (C).
Replacements: David Heffernan, Denis Buckley, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Joe Maksymiw, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, David Horwitz, John Porch.
 
FIND YOUR MATCH TICKETS HERE

Connacht have been boosted by the return of a host of players ahead of the Champions Cup clash with Toulouse on Saturday (Kick off 3:15pm). Bundee Aki and Jack Carty are available for selection following a two week rest period, as is Ultan Dillane who was rested last week.

Finlay Bealham has returned to full training and is available for selection after completing his return to play protocols. He was involved in a collision in the game against Ulster.

In addition, Rory Burke (neck), Jarrad Butler (illness), Colby Fainga’a (knee), Matt Healy (thigh) and Peter Robb (head) are all reintegrating into training this week following their respective injuries.

The news is also very positive on Conor Fitzgerald following a scan on his ankle. He will return to full training next week. Peter McCabe (ankle) and Tom Farrell (shoulder) are progressing well with their injuries and they will also look to return to training next week.

Conor Kenny (head) sustained a head injury in the Leinster game and will follow graduated return to play protocols. Stephen Fitzgerald sustained a knee injury in the same game and is awaiting scan results to determine the extent of his injuries.

Meanwhile, Matthew Burke (thigh), Cillian Gallagher (shoulder), Darragh Leader (calf), Sean O’Brien (shoulder) and Quinn Roux (hand) remain on the medium to long term injured list.

Tickets for the clash with the French Top 14 Champions are available to purchase here.

Carty starts at full back as Connacht prepare for Champions Cup clash with Gloucester

Ireland international Jack Carty is set to start at full back for Connacht in their Heineken Champions Cup clash with Gloucester on Saturday (Kick off 12:45pm). Carty is part of a back three that includes Niyi Adeolokun and John Porch on the wings.

Conor Fitzgerald and Caolin Blade also renew their half back partnership while Bundee Aki and Kyle Godwin start in midfield.

In the forwards, Captain Jarrad Butler will make his 50th appearance in a Connacht jersey. The openside is named in a backrow that includes the returning Eoin McKeon at blindside and Paul Boyle at number 8.

Having played all 80 minutes in his last three outings, lock Quinn Roux steps out so Ultan Dillane and Joe Maksymiw are named to start in the second row. 20 year old Academy player Niall Murray is included among the replacements for the first time.

In the front row Dave Heffernan comes back in at hooker with Peter McCabe and Dominic Robertson-McCoy at loosehead and tighthead respectively.

Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “This is a must win game for us if we are to advance in the Champions Cup this season. We are expecting a big crowd in the Sportsground and we know how difficult it can be to beat us especially when we are at home”.

“We have made a number of changes from last weekend with some positional changes and some fresh legs coming in. We have learned a lot from the away defeat and we have picked a side that we feel can beat Gloucester on Saturday”.

Connacht Matchday Squad V Gloucester (Sat 14 Dec, 12:45pm)

(15-9): Jack Carty, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Bundee Aki, John Porch, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade (1-8): Peter McCabe, Dave Heffernan, Dominic Robertson McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Joe Maksymiw, Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler (Capt), Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Denis Buckley, Finlay Bealham, Niall Murray, Eoghan Masterson, Stephen Kerins, Tom Daly, Robin Copeland.

Gloucester 26

Connacht 17

A strong second half Gloucester performance turned around Connacht’s three point half time lead as the English side claimed the bonus point win in this Champions Cup Round 3 clash. After the first of the crucial back to back fixtures, the return leg in the Sportsground next Saturday now becomes a must win for Connacht.

Gloucester drew first blood just 4 minutes into the game when Tom Marshall raced onto a pass outside the 22 and ran in under the posts. Amazingly though, Cipriani’s conversion was to prove their final score of the opening half for Gloucester as Connacht mounted a massive defensive display.

Connacht responded with their opening try after 8 minutes when John Porch scored his third try in two games. Porch looked confident in his new full back position and looked an attacking threat throughout.

While Gloucester made a handful of visits inside the Connacht 22 throughout the first half, they couldn’t break down a resolute defence. Connacht had their chances too and their period of pressure was rewarded on 18 minutes when Carty converted a penalty to leave the visitors 3 points to the good – a lead they held to the break.

It was a different Gloucester side that emerged for the second half and within seven minutes of the restart, Louis Rees-Zammit was in for the home side’s second try.

Connacht to their credit tried to stay in touch, but the English Premiership side had found a new level of confidence matched by greater accuracy.

At the game hit the 60 minutes mark, Gloucester were in again just after Kyle Godwin was sent to the bin following a succession of Connacht penalties – the final quarter was always going to be an uphill challenge from here. The home side capitalised on that numerical advantage and in the 65th minute Jake Polledri claimed the bonus point try with Cipriani scoring the conversion to leave it 24 – 10 with 15 to go.

From here Connacht went in search of a losing bonus point but and were unlucky not to have a try with 5 minutes remaining. The try did eventually come though when Quinn Roux drove at the Gloucester line 2 minutes into injury time. Unfortunately though, even with Fitzgerald’s conversion success, Connacht left with nothing.

So Gloucester draw first blood in the back to back battle. Both sides have just six days to regroup for the return leg in the Sporstground next Saturday.

For tickets to the crucial Champions Cup clash clash – Click here

Connacht scorers

Tries: J Porch, Q Roux

Conversions: Jack Carty (1), Conor Fitzgerald (1)

Penalties: J Carty (1)

Gloucester: Tom Marshall,  Louis Rees-Zammit,  Chris Harris (B Twelvetrees),  Mark Atkinson,  Ollie Thorley,  Danny Cipriani (M Banahan), Joe Simpson (Callum Braley ) Val Rapava Ruskin (Josh Hohneck), Franco Marais (Todd Gleave), Fraser Balmain (Jamal Ford-Robinson) Gerbrandt Grobler,  Franco Mostert (Alex Craig), Ruan Ackermann (Lewis Ludlow), Jake Polledri,  Ben Morgan.

Connacht:  John Porch,  Niyi Adeolokun,  Bundee Aki, Peter Robb (Tom Daly,  Kyle Godwin,  Jack Carty (Conor Fitzgerald) , Caolin Blade (Stephen Kerins)  Denis Buckley (P McCabe), Tom McCartney (Jonny Murphy), Finlay Bealham (Dominic Robertson-McCoy) Joe Maksymiw (Ultan Dillane ), Quinn Roux,  Eoghan Masterson, Colby Fainga’a (Robin Copeland), Jarrad Butler.

 

Ireland internationals Jack Carty and Bundee Aki are both named in the Connacht matchday squad to face Leinster in the Sportsground on Friday (Kick off 7:35pm).
 
Carty comes straight back into the side at out half while Aki is named among the replacements for the first interpro clash of the season.
 
Carty plays his first game since Ireland’s win over Russia in the World Cup and he forms a half back partnership with Caolin Blade. At midfield, Peter Robb is retained after his recent outstanding performances and he will be partnered by Tom Farrell.
 
FIND YOUR MATCH TICKETS HERE
Elsewhere in the back line Stephen Fitzgerald comes in on the wing with Darragh Leader at full back and the in-form Niyi Adeolokun on the opposite wing.
 
Up front, there is a highly experienced front row with Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham filling the loosehead and tighthead spots respectively and Tom McCartney named at hooker.
 
In the second row, Sligo man Cillian Gallagher comes in for his first start of the season alongside Joe Maksymiw. The back row has a familiar look to it with flankers Eoghan Masterson and Jarrad Butler lining up alongside Paul Boyle at number 8.
 
Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “We are happy with the start we have made in the PRO14 with four wins in a row. What is even more satisfying is the depth we have already displayed, with 35 players already used in the opening five games. With Jack Carty, Bundee Aki and Sean O’Brien all coming back in this week, that number will hopefully go to 38”.
 
“We obviously face another huge challenge this weekend against Leinster but our challenge is to just maintain the consistency we have seen over the past few weeks both at home and away. We take huge pride in our home record, with just one loss in thirteen games and we expect a massive crowd again on Friday night”, he added.
 

Connacht Matchday Squad V Leinster (Fri 8 NOV, 7:35 PM)

(15-9): Darragh Leader, Niyi Adeolokun, Tom Farrell, Peter Robb, Stephen Fitzgerald, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade (1-8): Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Cillian Gallagher, Joe Maksymiw, Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler (C), Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Sean O’Brien, Colby Fainga’a, Kieran Marmion, Bundee Aki, Kyle Godwin.

Bundee Aki and Jack Carty have been named in the final 31-man Ireland squad for the Rugby World Cup.
 
The pair will now travel to Japan next week after the final warm-up game against Wales, and will aim to be part of the first Ireland squad to reach the semi-finals.
 
Carty made his first Test start for Ireland in Saturday’s win over Wales in Cardiff, producing a man-of-the-match performance. His Ireland debut came off the bench against Italy in this year’s Six Nations, and also played cameo roles in the games against France and Wales.
 
Aki made his Ireland debut against South Africa in the 2017 November Internationals, and started all five games in the Grand Slam winning Six Nations campaign in 2018.
 
Ireland – Rugby World Cup Squad 2019

Forwards (17)
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 119 caps CAPTAIN
Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster) 8 caps
Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 15 caps
Sean Cronin (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 69 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 35 caps
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 90 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 30 caps
Iain Henderson (Queens University/Ulster) 47 caps
Jean Kleyn (Munster) 2 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 59 caps
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps
Rhys Ruddock (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 22 caps
James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 18 caps
John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 20 caps
Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 16 caps
CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 32 caps
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 18 caps

Backs (14)
Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 19 caps
Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 19 caps
Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 6 caps
Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 15 caps
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 77 caps
Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) 5 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 37 caps
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 91 caps
Jordan Larmour (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 15 caps
Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 13 caps
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 73 caps
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 23 caps
Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 83 caps
Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 20 caps

Kieran Marmion, Bundee Aki and man-of-the-match Jack Carty all produced impressive performances in Ireland’s Rugby World Cup warm-up win over Wales on Saturday.
 
Carty, who was making his first Test start for Ireland, slotted over 5 points and also produced the break which resulted in the opening try for Jacob Stockdale.
 
The trio are now waiting to hear if they will be named in the final 31-man squad for the World Cup with less than 3 weeks to go until the opening game against Scotland.
 

Connacht out half Jack Carty is set to take another step on his international career as gets his first start in and Ireland jersey to add to his five previous caps off the bench. Carty will be surrounded by familiar faces as Kieran Marmion is named as his half back partner with Bundee Aki at 12.

Head Coach Joe Schmidt has announced a much changed side led by Peter O’Mahony with Rory Best in the replacements.

Jack Conan and Tadgh Beirne join O’Mahony in the backrow with Iain Henderson and James Ryan packing down at lock.

Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan make up an all Munster front row combination with the Connacht pair of Connacht pair of Marmion and Carty at 9 and 10.

Aki and Chris Farrell partner up in the centre for a fifth run out together with Will Addison supported in the backfield by Andrew Conway and Jacob Stockdale.

The replacements on Saturday are Rory Best, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, Jordi Murphy, Luke McGrath, Garry Ringrose and Dave Kearney.

The match will be broadcast live by Channel 4 and RTE Radio.

Ireland Team & Replacements (v Wales, Principality Stadium, Saturday, August 31)

Player/Club/Province/Caps
15. Will Addison (Enniskillen/Ulster) 3 caps
14. Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 14 caps
13. Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) 6 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 18 caps
11. Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 20 caps
10. Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 5 caps
9. Kieran Marmion (Galwegians/Connacht) 26 caps

1.Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 29 caps
2. Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 15 caps
3. John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 19 caps
4. Iain Henderson (Queens University/Ulster) 46 caps
5. James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps
6. Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster) 7 caps
7. Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 58 caps
8. Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 14 caps

REPLACEMENTS
16. Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 118 caps
17. Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 16 caps
18. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 34 caps
19. Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 66 caps
20. Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Ulster) 28 caps
21. Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 12 caps
22. Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 22 caps
23. Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster) 18 caps

 

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