Munster 20

Connacht 18

 

Connacht were narrowly defeated by Munster in the United Rugby Championship tonight in a keenly fought contest at Thomond Park. 

 

Despite a converted try and two penalties from Jack Carty and a Paul Boyle touchdown, the visitors were ultimately pipped by the hosts who had two Joey Carbery penalties and conversions and tries from Chris Cloete and Diarmuid Barron to thank for their points. 

 

Connacht started the game with breakneck tempo and they had a score to show for their efforts after barely a minute of play. 

 

A well-orchestrated set-piece routine saw Mack Hansen speed through a gap and offload to Bundee Aki, who, in turn, found Conor Oliver with a pass. Munster infringed and the away team were awarded a penalty that Carty slotted with ease to open the scoring at 3-0.

 

After absorbing pressure from the hosts, the Westerners launched an attack of their own and this yielded a penalty which Carty — showing composure — slotted to make it 6-0 for the away team in what was proving to be a profitable opening ten minutes. 

 

Munster were in the ascendancy, in terms of possession and territory, but Connacht — with Aki, Cian Prendergast and Conor Oliver especially prominent — were resolute in defence, be it at the breakdown, maul or in open play. 

 

The Westerners — who were reduced to 14 men temporarily when Sammy Arnold was unfortunate to slip into a high tackle — held the hosts at bay until the stroke of half time but Cloete, diving on a deflected kick through, pounced on a ball in the 22 to score the games first try. Carbery converted and Connacht went into the interval trailing by a point at 7-6. 

 

The home team began the second half in a similar manner to the way they ended the first and they capitalised on this when Carbery scored the first points of the second period with a penalty to take the score to 10-6 in favour of Munster. 

 

Connacht weren’t deterred, however, and they wrestled their way back into the game and earned a number of penalties deep in the Munster 22 with enterprising attacks. Showing quick thinking, number eight Boyle chose to take a quick tap penalty and he dove in for the Westerners’ first try of the evening and the away team took the lead at 11-10.

 

The leads swapped hands again when Carbery kicked Munster back into the lead with a penalty to set up a tense final twenty-minutes. 

 

Connacht kept in the fight, however, and they were rewarded for their doggedness when Carty — showing determination — charged down a kick from Carbery before collecting the ricochet to touch down for a try that he converted to give the away team an 18-13 lead. 

 

In what was a topsy turvy encounter, Munster were next to take the lead when Barron barged over from short range for a try that Carbery converted to take the score to 20-18 to the home team.

 

That’s the way the contest ended and the home team narrowly took the intepro, 20-18.

 

Connacht team: 

 

(15-9)

 

15: Tiernan O’Halloran 

14: John Porch 

13: Sammy Arnold 

12: Bundee Aki 

11: Mack Hansen 

10: Jack Carty 

9: Caolin Blade

 

(8-1)

 

8: Paul Boyle 

7: Conor Oliver 

6: Cian Prendergast

5: Ultan Dillane 

4: Niall Murray 

3: Finlay Bealham 

2: Dave Heffernan 

1: Matthew Burke.

 

Replacements: 

 

Shane Delahunt for Heffernan, Greg McGrath for Matthew Burke, Jack Aungier for Finlay Bealhan, Eoghan Masterson for Ultan Dillane, Abraham Papali’i for Boyle, Kieran Marmion for Blade, Jarrad Butler for Prendergast, Tom Daly.

Fly-half Jack Carty says that Connacht will take learnings from last weekend’s home defeat to The Dragons and will apply them to the rest of their season, starting with Saturday’s United Rugby Championship Interpro versus Munster at Thomond Park. 

 

Despite leading at halftime, the Westerners eventually lost 35-22 to the Welshmen in last Saturday’s 5:15 PM kick-off at the Sportsground. 

 

However, the Irish international is confident that Connacht can bounce back at a venue where they won last season, but admits it will be an arduous task against their 100% winning record boasting southern rivals. 

 

“We spoke about backing up a big performance with another one after last week(The Bulls game), but unfortunately we didn’t do that,” the Roscommon native said. 

 

“It was bitterly disappointing and I think there was a couple of things there like if we scored Bladey’s try we go in at halftime with a bigger lead and I think it changes the dynamic a small bit. 

 

‘We were a bit flat throughout the game and it was a bit disappointing because we had a good week, and again we didn’t back it up how we wanted to.”

 

“It usually comes down to an error, or a piece of brilliance, if you think about the game last year,” Carty said of the generally tight encounters between Munster and Connacht. 

 

“Mike Haley, with a piece of brilliance from him, fielded a high ball and ended up scoring. We ended up getting a yellow card at a pivotal point and that was the turning of the game. 

 

“And down there in Thomond, we kind of grinded it out and held them out in the end. Usually, they’re one score games and it comes down to those finer things, like discipline, staying in the fight and sticking to what our game will be. When we play against Munster, it’s always a dog fight and always those one or two little pivotal things that are the making or the breaking of the game.”

 

Carty, 29, referenced Connacht’s win against The Bulls — a team with a similar size and athletic profile to Munster — as the kind of standard the Westerners will need to hit once again if they are to win the upcoming interprovincial. 

 

“Yeah, I think so. That’s the benchmark, defensively and in an attack sense, that everything from that point on would be that or more. Munster have totally changed the way they have played in certain facets of the game as well. 

 

“It will be a bit different from how they’ve been previously. They are obviously incredibly good in the air, and they have changed in how they look to shift the ball into the wider edges and in terms of where their players are going in terms of kick receipts. 

 

“It should be really interesting and it’s always a tight game when you go down there and it’s going to come down to the top two inches.”

 

Meanwhile, senior attack coach Pete Wilkins says Connacht are on track to improve, despite last weekend’s reversal to the Dragons. 

 

The Englishman, who moved from his defensive coaching berth to senior attack coach role this summer, said that there are positives for the Westerners to take — even in defeat — and that progress towards an enhanced style of play is clear for the coaching staff to see. 

 

And Wilkins is confident that squad will move forwards and adapt further to their new style of play and overall strategy. 

 

“I think that any time you’re going to change the way you play the game — particularly in an overall identity — it’s not going to be done in one pre-season, in one or two or three games,” Wilkins said. 

 

“If you can start to see a real semblance of that identity come together in the middle of that first season, I think that’s a good outcome. That said, you need to see key markers along the way. On a game-by-game basis, you want to see those aspects of your identity growing as you go, you don’t just wait six months and be patient, you need to see that building and then see that final product halfway through the season. 

 

“In that sense, I’m happy with how we’re tracking and every game gives us the opportunity to learn where we’re at and how we can fix things.”

 

“Unfortunately, sometimes you have to go through that pain and learn those lessons by reviewing it. But what you don’t want to see is that being repeated week by week, you want to see growth. We’re on track, we’re on the right track. There are some difficult lessons out of a defeat like that but we take the lessons and we will move forwards.”

Connacht 22
Dragons 35

Connacht were defeated 35-22 by the Dragons at the Sportsground in the United Rugby Championship tonight.

 

Despite four penalties from Jack Carty and tries from Mack Hansen and Conor Fitzgerald, it was the visitors who left Galway with the bonus point win.

 

Tries from Jonah Holmes(2), Jordan Williams and Maseke Doge, as well as the boot of Sam Davies adding fifteen points — via three penalties and three conversions — paved the way for the away team to seal the win in an enthralling game.

 

Connacht started the game with an attacking ambition and their approach yielded points after only two minutes. The Dragons were adjudged to be offside just inside their own half and the hosts were awarded a penalty. Making no mistake, Carty confidently slotted the long range kick to open the scoring at 3-0.

 

The Roscommon native soon after added a second penalty, accurately slotting the kick from just inside the Dragons’ half. The 6-0 lead was a worthy reward for Connacht who were the dominant team in the opening fifteen minutes.

 

The Welsh team, however, opened their scoring account not long after when Davies slotted a penalty with aplomb. With their tails up, the visitors grew into the game and they showed their attacking strengths near the half hour mark with a well constructed try.

 

Full back Williams’ kick over the blitzing defence of the hosts bounced back to the full-back and he then showed vision to pass to Holmes to touch down. The conversion was wide, but Connacht found themselves behind for the first time at 8-6.

 

The Westerners were only behind for a matter of moments and retook their lead when Carty confidently stroked a penalty between the sticks and in a double whammy, the away team were reduced to 14 men after a yellow card to Rhodri Williams

 

Connacht seized on the man advantage and stretched their lead to four points when Carty notched his fourth penalty of the half and they held that 12-8 lead going into the interval.

 

The Dragons started the second half with renewed vigour and their efforts were rewarded when full-back Williams — with a sharp slight of foot — skipped in to touch down for a try that Davies converted to see the visitors edge 15-12 in front after ten minutes of the second period.

 

The away team went from strength to strength and they had their second try in a profitable second half period when Mesake Doge — the Fijian — barged over from close range. Once again, Davies — who continued his 100% record off the tee — made no error and the Dragons were 22-12 to the good.

 

With fresh impetus from replacements Conor Oliver, Shane Delahunt and Jordan Duggan, The Westerners upped the tempo in search of their opening try and they had it close to the hour from a familiar source. Carty’s slicing looping pass found Hansen and the winger sold two dummies to skip in for the try and Connacht brought the score back to 22-17.

 

The Dragons, though, were proving themselves adept from the kicking tee and Davies continued his fine form with the boot with a long range penalty to give the Welsh team an eight point lead at 25-17.

 

With their confidence up, the Welsh team flexed their attacking muscles and completed their bonus point when Holmes — pouncing on a bouncing ball — touched down for his second try. Davies made no mistake from the tee and the scoreline read 32-17 to the away team.

 

Connacht knew they had to go in search for tries to attempt to mount a comeback in the remaining ten minutes and they started that period well when Fitzgerald fielded Sammy Arnold’s beautiful offload to touch down to take the score to 22-32

 

However, the Dragons soon extinguished that hope with a Davies penalty and they stretched their lead further to 22-35 and that’s how the game finished.

 

 

Connacht team:

15-9

15: Tiernan O’Halloran
14: Ben O’Donnell
13: Tom Farrell
12: Tom Daly.
11: Mack Hansen
10: Jack Carty
9: Caolin Blade

8-1

8: Paul Boyle
7: Jarad Butler
6: Cian Prendergast
5: Ultan Dillane
4: Oisin Dowling
3: Finlay Bealham
2: Dave Heffernan
1: Matthew Burke

Replacements: Duggan for Burke, Delahunt for Heffernan, Aungier for Bealham, Oliver for Butler, Fifita for Dowling, Fitzgerald for Farrell, Arnold for Daly

By John O’Sullivan 

 

Connacht 34

Bulls 7

 

Connacht welcomed back fans to the Sportsground for the first time in over a year and they didn’t disappoint their supporters with a 34-7 win over the Bulls in the United Rugby Championship. 

 

Despite conceding an early try to Lizo Gqoboka, the Westerners rallied and scored five tries in a brilliant performance of physical dominance and skill. 

 

Tom Daly crossed for two tries, while player of the match Mack Hansen — on his home debut — Tom Farrell and Tiernan O’Halloran also dotted down five-pointers. The boot of the impressive Jack Carty tacked on three conversions and a penalty to account for the thirty-four points. 

 

The physical South African team started well and, after only a minute, found themselves in front when their loose-head, Gqoboka, powered his way over for a converted try.

 

Connacht, though, didn’t panic and soon after levelled the scores up when a rumbling maul gave them territory in the Bulls’ 22. From there, the ball was worked wide with speed. Tom Farrell throw a beautiful offload out of the tackle to Carty and the fly-half picked out O’Halloran to touch down. The Roscommon native then added the conversion to tie the game up at 7-7.

 

The line out was proving to be an excellent platform for the home team to launch attacks and it was through the set-piece that they took the lead for the first time. After winning a line out, Connacht constructed a move — which included a Kieran Marmion break — that was eventually ended when a Bulls player was penalised for not rolling away. Showing composure, Carty made no mistake to take the score to 10-7 in the Westerners’ favour. 

 

The home team started the second half in a similar fashion to what they finished the first and they had their second try not long into the second period. A probing move from the forwards close to the line — with Abraham Papali’i carrying hard and often — established field position. Then, the ball was worked to the backs and Daly — running on an arc — powered over. Carty once again added the extras and Connacht lead 17-7.

 

It wasn’t long before it became three tries and it was a score worth waiting for. Fielding the ball in his own half, Hansen — with pace in abundance — fired his way down the pitch, evading several tackles, and dove over for a try of individual brilliance. At 22-7, the home team were deservedly ahead. 

 

With the bonus point try in their sights, Connacht continued to play with ambition and a high tempo and their efforts were rewarded with ten minutes remaining. A solid scrum on halfway gave Marmion clean ball to work with. The scrum-half made a burst, fed a pass to Carty and the Roscommon man’s pass was met by Farrell on a clever line. The centre then powered his way through the midfield to touch down for the home sides bonus point. Carty then tacked on the conversion and the Westerners found themselves 29-7 ahead. 

 

The home team weren’t done there, however, and they had a fifth try with the clock in red at the end of the game. Daly, with the aid of team-mates lending their strength close to the line, crashed over the whitewash to seal the win at 34-7.

 

Connacht team: 

 

(15-9) 

 

15: Tiernan O’Halloran 

14: John Porch
13: Tom Farrell 

12: Tom Daly 

11: Mack Hansen 

10: Jack Carty 

9: Kieran Marmion 

 

(8-1)

 

8: Abraham Papali’i

7: Jarrad Butler © 

6: Cian Prendergast

5: Ultan Dillane 

4: Oisin Dowling 

3: Finlay Bealham 

2: Dave Heffernan 

1: Jordan Duggan 

 

Replacements: 

 

16: Shane Delahunt for Dave Heffernan 

17: Matthew Burke for Jordan Duggan

18: Jack Aungier for Finlay Bealham

19: Leva Fifita for Oisin Dowling

20: Conor Oliver for Jarrad Butler 

21: Caolin Blade 

22: Paul Boyle for Papali’i

23: Sammy Arnold for Cian Prendergast

By John O’Sullivan

 

Connacht were defeated 33-21 by Cardiff Rugby in their first United Rugby Championship game of the season at Cardiff Arms Park. 

 

Despite a brace of tries from Kieran Marmion and eleven points — three penalties and a conversion — from the boot of Jack Carty it was the hosts who sealed the win. 

 

The Welsh team scored five tries in total, two from Owen Lane and one apiece from Hallam Amos, Willis Halaholo and Liam Belcher, in an open game where both teams were committed to attack. 

 

The Connacht pack showed their prowess early on and — despite Cardiff having the feed to the set-piece — eked out a scrum penalty after a powerful, collective drive. From the kick, Carty made no mistake from just outside the 22 and the away team registered their first points of the new season to take an early 3-0 lead. 

 

Cardiff, though, reacted well to the early concession of the score and they upped the tempo in search of points of their own. The Westerners absorbed plenty of pressure, defending stoutly close to their line, but a looping pass found Welsh international Amos to dive over for a try. The conversion landed accurately and the home team had the lead for the first time at 7-3. 

 

The opening ten or so minutes were played at breakneck speed and it was the Westerners who registered the next score with Marmion showing a customary turn of pace to touch down after a deft pass from Conor Oliver. Jarrad Butler forced a turnover deep in Cardiff territory and, moving the ball quickly, the Westerners fashioned an opportunity that their Irish international scrum-half took with aplomb. Carty once again split the posts and Connacht retook the lead at 10-7. 

 

To their credit, the home team pushed and probed to try and wrestle themselves back into the game, but all of their attacks were met with Connacht resistance. The back row, in particular, of Butler, Oliver and Cian Prendergast were both committed and efficient in the tackle and at the breakdown and they kept the Welsh team at bay. 

 

After weathering the hosts attacking storm, the away team began to knit attacks of their own together. After a searing break from loose-head prop Matthew Burke, Cardiff infringed inside the 22. Carty, once again, showed composure from the kicking tee and Connacht stretched their lead to 13-7. 

 

But it was Cardiff who had the last say in an entertaining half when Willis Halaholo ran a clever line from the back of a scrum in the Connacht 22 to touch down for a try. Replacement Tomos Williams slotted the penalty to take the half time score to 14-13 in favour of the Welsh team. 

 

The Blues began the second half with attacking intent, but Connacht — with centre’s Tom Daly and Tom Farrell prominent in defence — were sturdy in defence for the opening ten minutes of the second period. However, Cardiff’s pressure eventually told and Lane showed pace to collect a pass and touch down. Williams kicked the conversion successfully and the hosts lead 21-13.

 

Connacht didn’t relent, though, and they added the game’s next score when Carty extended his 100% record off the tee with another successful penalty to bring the score back to 21-16. 

With fresh legs and impetus brought from the bench by the replacements, the Westerners had the ascendancy in terms of possession and territory in the middle part of the second half and their pressure yielded several penalties with Cardiff eventually being yellow carded for their role in the penalties. 

 

However, Connacht soon joined them in playing with a reduced number when Carty was penalised for leading with the shoulder at a ruck and then Mack Hansen was cautioned for blocking. 

 

Cardiff took advantage of their superior numbers with ten minutes remaining. Lane completed his brace of tries and wrapped up the hosts’ bonus point after collecting a pass on the blindside from the back of a rolling maul and running in. Williams added the extras to take the score to 28-16 in favour of the home team. 

 

The hosts soon added their fifth try of the evening when replacement hooker Liam Belcher forced his way over from close range. Williams was inaccurate with the conversion, but 13 man Connacht trailed 33-16 with five minutes remaining. 

 

Connacht did have the last say, however, when replacement Conor Fitzgerald’s excellent break cut through the Cardiff defence and the ball was worked — via a beautiful offload by Sammy Arnold — to Marmion to touch down for his second try. It was the final act and the final whistle blew at 33-21 in favour of Connacht 

 

Connacht team (15-9)

 

15: Tiernan O’Halloran 

14: John Porch 

13: Tom Farrell 

12: Tom Daly 

11: Mack Hansen 

10: Jack Carty 

9: Kieran Marmion 

 

(8-1) 

 

8: Jarrad Butler © 

7: Conor Oliver

6: Cian Prendergast 

5: Ultan Dillane 

4: Oisin Dowling 

3: Finlay Bealham 

2: Shane Delahunt 

1: Matthew Burke 

 

Replacements: Dave Heffernan for Delahunt, Paul Boyle for Oliver, Jordan Duggan for Burke, Dominic Robertson McCoy for Bealham, Niall Murray for Dillane, Conor Fitzgerald for Carty, Sammy Arnold for Porch.

Leicester Tigers 48

Connacht 32

 

By John O’Sullivan

 

Connacht bowed out of the Challenge Cup at the last 16 stage after a 48-32 defeat to Leicester Tigers at Welford Road. 

 

Despite the Westerners registering tries through Kieran Marmion, Eoghan Masterson, Alex Wootton and Paul Boyle and twelve points from the boot of Jack Carty, it was the hosts who progressed through to the quarter-final.

 

Connacht began the game looking to play with their trademark ambition and pace and they were rewarded for this approach early on when Marmion touched down. 

 

Sean O’Brien made an incisive break, cutting through Tigers’ defence, and Marmion — running an intelligent trail line — caught the centre’s offload and showed great pace to sprint in for the try close to the left touchline. 

 

To their credit, Leicester responded well to conceding a try and responded with two quickfire scores of their own. First, from a rolling maul — a regular source of tries for the English side — Charlie Clare dotted down. 

 

Then, from a turnover in their own half, the hosts broke quickly and Guy Porter ran in a try down the blindside. This time, the Tigers converted via Zack Henry and — despite Connacht being in the ascendancy in terms of possession — lead 12-5. 

 

In an open game, the Westerners scored next when Carty — showing great accuracy from the tee — confidently slotted a penalty to reduce the deficit to four points. 

 

Connacht continued to probe in search of scores and their pressure lead to Care — the host’s first try scorer — receiving a yellow card for a high tackle. However, despite being a man in arrears, Leicester scored another rapid brace of tries. 

 

First, Matias Moroni reacted first to a spilled high ball and showed good awareness to swoop in for the try. Then, five minutes later, Henry touched down after another counter-attacking move saw Leicester quickly break and score. 

 

A heavy spell of pressure from the visitors followed and — after four penalties in the 22 — Carty eventually rewarded their patience when he bisected the posts with a penalty that took the half-time score to 24-11 in favour of the home team. 

 

Connacht started the second half with intent and attacked with gusto right from the start. 

 

A bludgeoning carry from Tom Daly established field position deep in Leicester territory. Masterson intelligently spotted a gap at the next ruck and sprinted into the space Ro touch down for a try borne of quick thinking. Carty added the extras to bring by the visitors back within touching distance.

 

Leicester responded by opening their second-half account with a Henry penalty, but Connacht didn’t let that change the course of the momentum and they added their second try of the half not long after.

 

A typically enterprising attack saw substitute Caolin Blade throw a sumptuous, against the grain pass which Wootton — running a sharp line — collected and showed searing pace to burst through and touch down. Carty added the conversion and cut the deficit to two points at 27-25.

 

The scoring was of a tit-for-tat nature and Leicester were next to bare their teeth with another rolling maul try with Clare touching down for his second. Henry converted and the scoreline read 34:25.

 

Connacht, though, kept plugging away and captain Boyle personified this when he — like Masterson beforehand — spotted a gap in a ruck and sped in for a try that Carty converted, leaving the score at 34:32.

 

The Tigers were the next to score when Harry Wells barged over from close range. Henry converted and Leicester broke the forty-point mark and took the game away from the visitors.

 

The hosts finished off in style when Jasper Wiese smashed his way over the line off the back of a scrum to rubber-stamp the win at 48-32. 

 

Connacht team: 

(15-9)

15: John Porch 

14: Matt Healy 

13: Sean O’Brien 

12: Tom Daly 

11: Alex Wootton 

10: Jack Carty 

9: Kieran Marmion

 

(8-1)

8: Paul Boyle ©

7: Conor Oliver 

6: Eoghan Masterson 

5: Gavin Thornbury 

4: Ultan Dillane 

3: Finlay Bealham

2: Dave Heffernan 

1: Denis Buckley 

 

Replacements: Caolin Blade for Marmion, Dominic Robertson McCoy for Bealham, Shane Delahunt for Heffernan, Abraham Papali’i for Conor Oliver, Conor Fitzgerald for Carty

 

By John O’Sullivan

 

Connacht 14-15 Edinburgh.

 

An Edinburgh try in the last play of the game condemned Connacht to a 14-15 defeat at a rain-sodden Sportsground. 

 

Tries from Sean O’Brien — who marked his first start in style — and Shane Delahunt — both of which Jack Carty converted — saw the hosts establish a 14-5 half time lead, with Edinburgh’s score coming from lock Magnus Bradbury.

 

However, the Westerners were reduced to 14 men early in the second half when captain Jarrad Butler was red-carded for a high tackle and the visitors took advantage, scoring eight unanswered points — via a try, conversion and penalty from out-half Nathan Chamberlain — to seal the win with a touch down in the last play of the game.

 

It was a big night for O’Brien and Cian Prendergast, who both had positive performances in their first starts, as well as Oran McNulty, who made his professional debut as a second-half replacement.

 

With the pre-match rain subsiding, Connacht looked to attack early on and run the ball. Their efforts were rewarded when O’Brien — in his first senior start for the province — ran a powerful, cutting line to meet Kieran Marmion’s pass and power over the line after the Westerners quickly recycled the ball when Edinburgh tackled Alex Wootton close to the line. Carty made no mistake in adding the extras and the hosts had a deserved 7-0 lead.

 

Connacht were intent on adding to their early try and enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession and territory for the majority of the opening half. The Scots were resolute in defence, though, and held out before launching a rare attack and scoring. 

 

Eventually, after a series of hard carries in the 22, lock Magnus Bradbury stooped over the line to touch down for an unconverted try, which brought the score to 7-5 in favour of the hosts. 

 

The Westerners — with second-row Niall Murray particularly impressive —  reacted well to the concession of this try and closed out the half with a score of their own.

 

Turning down the opportunity to kick at goal on the brink of half time, Connacht instead kicked to the line. Their ambition paid dividends when Delahunt, at the tail of a powerful, marching maul, touched down and Carty, despite the difficult angle, accurately slotted the extras to make the half time score 14-5.

 

The second half began in a similar fashion with Connacht looking to add to their two tries. Edinburgh, however, were sturdy in defence and held firm. 

 

After a red card for Butler reduced the Westerners to 14, the Scotsmen seized the initiative in attack. 

 

Chamberlain brought the score back to 14-8 with a penalty and then, in the last play of the game — after Connacht, with replacements Jordan Duggan and Conor Kenny especially impressive in defence, had remained airtight in defence — the out half ran in a try under the posts, which he converted, to give the away team the win.

 

Connacht team:

(15-9)

15:Alex Wootton

14:Ben O’Donnell

13: Sean O’Brien

12: Tom Daly

11: Matt Healy

10: Jack Carty

9: Kieran Marmion

 

(1-8)

  1. Denis Buckley
  2. Shane Delahunt
  3. Jack Aungier
  4. Niall Murray
  5. Gavin Thornbury
  6. Cian Prendergast
  7. Jarrad Butler (C)
  8. Eoghan Masterson

 

Replacements: Jonny Murphy f0r Delahunt, Jordan Duggan for Buckley, Conor Kenny for Aungier, Abraham Papali’i for Prendergast, Caolin Blade for Marmion, Oran McNulty for O’Donnell.

 

Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce that 21 players have re-signed for the province ahead of the 2021-22 season.

In all 19 players from the existing Professional squad have renewed deals for next season while a further two players, Oran McNulty and Cian Prendergast, have been promoted from the Connacht Academy.

Today’s announcement includes four Irish internationals – Finlay Bealham, Jack Carty, Ultan Dillane and Dave Heffernan – while joint-leading Guinness PRO14 try scorer Alex Wootton has signed on a permanent contract having joined on loan from Munster last summer.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Head Coach Andy Friend says:

“I am delighted to see so many of our current crop of players sign on for another season. This is still a very challenging time for everyone in Irish Rugby so to have them commit to Connacht Rugby again says it all about the belief we have as a group to continue the progress we’re making.

17 of the 21 players were once part of the Connacht Academy, and in that group we have a mix of established Irish internationals, experienced players within the province and plenty of young players still in the early stages of their careers.

I have been very impressed by Cian Prendergast and Oran McNulty, and their first Professional contracts is the culmination of years of work from grassroots level to where they are now. Congratulations not just to them but their parents, coaches and all the other volunteers who helped them along the way.

We are continuing to shape the squad for next season, with further discussions ongoing, and supporters should expect more positive news in the weeks and months ahead.”

Connacht Rugby’s retention and recruitment remains ongoing and further announcements will be made in due course.

CONFIRMED NEW CONTRACTS FOR 2021-22

Finlay BEALHAM
Paul BOYLE
Denis BUCKLEY
Matthew BURKE
Jack CARTY
Shane DELAHUNT
Ultan DILLANE
Jordan DUGGAN
Conor FITZGERALD
Dave HEFFERNAN
Eoghan MASTERSON
Sean MASTERSON
Oran MCNULTY
Niall MURRAY
Conor OLIVER
John PORCH
Cian PRENDERGAST
Colm REILLY
Peter SULLIVAN
Gavin THORNBURY
Alex WOOTTON

By John O’Sullivan

 

Munster 20-17 Connacht

 

Connacht fell to a narrow 20-17 defeat to Munster in a physically draining interprovincial encounter at Thomond Park. 

 

The Westerners crossed the line twice, with Matt Healy and Paul Boyle touching down, with Jack Carty also adding seven points with the boot. But it was the hosts who edged the victory, thanks to a late Joey Carbery penalty, which added to two tries via James Cronin and Mike Haley,

 

Gavin Thornbury won a richly deserved man of the match award and the away team pushed the hosts — who top the conference — all the way with a physical performance, both on and off the ball.

 

Connacht started the game with intent and looked to pressure Munster on and off the ball. 

 

Thornbury stole an early line out which allowed the away team to kick for territory. Inside the Munster 22, the lock then charged down an attempted clearance kick and gave the Westerners the chance to feed a five-metre scrum. 

 

From the set-piece platform, the ball was worked to Carty who floated a beautiful pass into the path of Healy, and the winger, with trademark evasion, skipped the attention of a Munster defender to touch down. The Roscommon man then added the conversion to give Connacht an early 7-0 lead. 

 

Munster pushed forward in order to bring themselves back into the game, but their attempts were met with stubborn green resistance, especially in the set-piece where Thornbury and Ultan Dillane, in particular, were proving strong. Paul Boyle and John Porch also provided key interventions in holding the home team up twice over the line. 

 

Eventually, though, their pressure told and Cronin barged his way over from short range and Ben Healy added the extras to tie the teams up at 7-7. 

 

It didn’t take Connacht long to wrestle back the lead, however, as Carty — whose game management was generating attacking momentum for the visitors — sweetly struck a penalty to give the visitors the 10-7 lead they held going into the interval.

 

The home team began the second half in a strong fashion and they leveled the score up only three minutes after the interval when Healy slotted a penalty. 

 

A yellow card for Bundee Aki meant Connacht were reduced to 14 men, but, despite the deficit in men, they were defensively strong and didn’t concede in the period. Thornbury was effective in defence in both the line out — where he stole Munster throws — and at the breakdown where he won two penalties. 

 

With the Westerners so strong in defence, it would take something special to prize them open and that’s exactly what Haley provided when he brilliantly collected his own chip kick and touched down for a try that Joey Carbery converted to give the hosts a 17-10 lead. 

 

Connacht dusted themselves down and went on the offensive, with Carty orchestrating their attack with authority. The Roscommon man’s grubber kick through found Healy, whose acceleration brought him through a gap and deep into the hosts territory. 

 

More carries, from Carty and Caolin Blade, established field position in the Munster 22 and the hosts infringed when slowing down Connacht ball. Chris Cloete was sin-binned and the Westerners opted to take a scrum. 

 

Building phases close to the line, the ball was worked to the right-hand side where Boyle noticed a slight gap and powered through it to touch down. Carty made no mistake with the conversion and the away team leveled the game once again at 17-17. 

 

Connacht pushed and probed for the game-winning score, but it was Munster — with a Carbery penalty — who took the spoils late on and edged an extremely physical encounter. 

Connacht team: 

 

(15-9)

15: Tiernan O’Halloran 

14: John Porch 

13: Tom Daly 

12: Bundee Aki 

11: Matt Healy 

10: Jack Carty 

9: Caolin Blade 

 

(8-1)

8: Paul Boyle 

7: Conor Oliver 

6: Jarrad Butler © 

5: Gavin Thornbury 

4: Ultan Dillane 

3: Finlay Bealham 

2: Dave Heffernan 

1: Denis Buckley

 

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Jack Aungier, Niall Murray, Eoghan Masterson, Kieran Marmion, Sean O’Brien, Alex Wootton.

Connacht 32-17 Cardiff Blues

 

By John O’Sullivan

 

Connacht made it consecutive Guinness PRO14 wins with a 32-17 victory over The Cardiff Blues tonight. 

 

A brace of tries from Guinness man of the match Alex Wootton, a try apiece from Jarrad Butler and Abraham Papali’i, and 12 points from the boot of Jack Carty accounted for the hosts’ points, which were earned thanks to a performance of attacking class and set-piece efficiency.

 

The results sees the Westerners two points clear of the Scarlets in second place in Conference B, having played two games less than the Welsh team.

 

Cardiff, meanwhile, scored two tries of their own — as well as a penalty — but it was the home team who deservedly won all five points.

 

The visitors started the game in a strong manner and Connacht had plenty of defending to do in the opening ten minutes. Matt Healy and Tom Daly, in particular, came up with some big defensive interventions but the away team’s perseverance eventually told and — after a series of phases in the hosts 22 — loosehead prop Rhys Carre forced his way over. Jason Tovey added the extras to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.

 

The hosts grew into the game in an attacking sense thereafter and they made it count on the scoreboard thanks to two Carty penalties before Cardiff get a three-pointer of their own through Tovey to bring the score to 10-6 to the visitors with only five minutes of the half remaining.

 

The Westerners’ pack were beginning to gain the ascendancy and were providing their backs the platform to attack. Connacht took full advantage of the opportunity to bring their outside backs into the play with two quick tries before halftime, both from Wootoon.

 

The first try saw both wingers combine as Healy fed a pass to Wootton and the 26-year-old sliced through the outside cover to touch down in the left-hand corner. Carty made no mistakes adding the extras and Connacht lead for the first time, 13-10.

 

An even more spectacular finish was to follow after a series of phases of hard carries — with Ultan Dillane especially prominent — established Connacht field position just outside Cardiff’s 22. The ball was then worked to Carty, whose delicate pirouette and offload released Wootton.

 

The winger stood up a Blues’ defender with a beautiful step and then sped into the space he created to touch down for a brilliant try. Carty slotted the conversion to see Connacht go into the interval 20-10 to the good.

 

The Westerners began the second half with attacking intent, but the visitors were stout in defence and repelled all of the home teams attempts to score and then — after weathering a Connacht attacking storm for the opening 20 minutes of the half — struck for their second try.

 

Corey Domachowski, the replacement prop, barged his over from short range and Tovey’s successful conversion brought the score back to a three-point differential, 20-17.

 

Connacht didn’t’ let the tide of momentum flow against them, however, and they finished the game strongly — with their bench bringing freshness and attacking impetus — with two more tries.

 

First, Jarrad Butler touched down at the tail of a powerful rolling maul after Carty elected to kick to the line after winning a penalty in the 22. The subsequent line out trundled it’s way forward and the captain was the beneficiary after he dove over the for the try to make the score 25-17.

 

With their tails up, the Westerners pushed for the bonus point win and they sealed it when replacement Papali’i smashed his way over from close range. The Connacht pack carried their way into an advanced position into the Cardiff 22 and worked an opportunity for Papali’i and the big number 8 took it with both hands and touched down.

 

Carty expertly kicked the conversion to cap off an excellent performance and seal the win, 32-17.

 

Connacht team:

 

(15-9)

15: John Porch 

14: Alex Wootton 

13: Tom Daly 

12: Bundee Aki 

11: Matt Healy 

10: Jack Carty

9: Caolin Blade

 

(8-1)

8: Paul Boyle

7: Jarrad Butler ©

6: Eoghan Masterson 

5: Gavin Thornbury 

4: Ultan Dillane 

3: Finlay Bealham 

2: Dave Heffernan 

1: Jordan Duggan 

 

Replacements: Shane Delahunt for Heffernan, Denis Buckley for Duggan, Jack Aungier for Bealham, Oisin Dowling for Thornbury, Abraham Papali’i for Masterson, Kieran Marmion for Blade, Sean O’Brien for Daly, Tiernan O’Halloran for Porch.

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