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.

 

Connacht Rugby can confirm that James Connolly and Rory Scholes have extended their contracts with the province into the 2018/19 season.

Since graduating from the Connacht Academy, Connolly has played 28 times for the province. He made his debut in the Challenge Cup in the 2014/15 season and has made six appearances so far this season.

Scholes joined Connacht from Edinburgh in summer 2017. He has made three appearances for the senior side in this campaign and also featured for the Connacht Eagles in the B&I Cup.

Commenting on the contract extensions, Connacht Head Coach Kieran Keane said: “We are delighted that James and Rory have extended their contracts into next season. We feel we are really building a strong squad and both players will give us even greater options in the 2018/19 campaign.”

Head Coach Kieran Keane has made seven changes to the Connacht side that secured a bonus-point win against the Southern Kings last week as the team travel to Rodney Parade to take on the Dragons tomorrow night (7.30pm).

Rory Scholes, Caolin Blade, Denis Coulson, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux and Jake Heenan all come into the side for their first starts of the season as Eoghan Masterson comes back in for his second start.

Scholes is set to make his competitive debut for the province on the wing in place of Matt Healy.

Blade is included in the side at scrum-half in place of Irish international Kieran Marmion, who is named among the replacements.

The other five changes are in the pack with two alterations in the front row. Coulson makes his first start for Connacht at loosehead prop after coming off the bench to make his debut in the win over the Kings with Carey starting at tighthead prop.

Ireland international Roux and Heenan also come into the side for their first starts of the season with Roux in the second row and Heenan in the back row.

Masterson, a try-scorer off the bench last week, replaces the injured Sean O’Brien.

With six points from two home games, Connacht are on the road for the first time this season in Wales and Assistant Coach Nigel Carolan is not underestimating the challenge posed by Bernard Jackman’s Dragons side.

Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Carolan said: “Bernard Jackman is trying to rebuild the Dragons and create a strong identity, much like he did in Grenoble. They will be a tight-knit group and very difficult to play against. They have some real firepower with Ashton Hewitt, Zane Kirchner, and the boot of Gavin Henson. It is going to be a very difficult game for us and we have to make sure we build on last week and are more effective than we were against the Kings.”

#DRAvCON

Please note this game is not televised but follow @ConnachtRugby on Twitter for live updates from Rodney Parade.

Kick-off 7.30pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Darragh Leader, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Rory Scholes, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Denis Coulson, Tom McCartney, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, Jake Heenan, John Muldoon.

Replacements (16-23): Dave Heffernan, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Gavin Thornbury, Jarrad Butler, Kieran Marmion, Steve Crosbie, Eoin Griffin.

Connacht Head Coach Kieran Keane has made three changes to his starting XV to face Brive in the European Challenge Cup, in the Sportsground on Saturday (K.O. 3pm). Connacht secured a bonus point win last weekend with a 38 – 31 win away to the French Top14 side.

Darragh Leader comes into the side at full back, James Connolly is in at openside and James Mitchell makes his first start for the province at scrum half. Connacht sit on top of Pool 5 after three rounds and a win at home to Brive would put them in an excellent position to qualify for a home Quarter Final.

Sligo native and Academy player Cillian Gallagher is retained in the starting line up at blindside after making his first start last weekend. For the second time this season, Eoghan Masterson is set to the captain the side from number 8.

There is a huge amount of experience on the bench with Tom McCartney, John Muldoon, Kieran Marmion and Tiernan O’Halloran named among the replacements.

In Brive last weekend the home side got off to the best possible, scoring three tries and leading by 16 points after 28 minutes but by half time Connacht were back in the game with tries from Ultan Dillane and Kieran Marmion. In advance of the return leg, Connacht Backs Coach Nigel Carolan says that Connacht need to be more consistent over the 80 minutes. “We are hoping to use the win over Brive last weekend to kick us off to another good run of form. We have some big games coming up and maintaining a level of consistency is what we are aiming to achieve. We can’t afford to be complacent though. We haven’t played at home in a few weeks, so the lads are looking forward to being back out in front of a festive home crowd and producing the performance that can achieve a good result.

 

#BRIvCON

Kick-off 3pm:

(15-9) Darragh Leader, Cian Kelleher, Pita Ahki, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, James Mitchell, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Cillian Gallagher, James Connolly, Eoghan Masterson (Capt)

Replacements (16-23): Tom McCartney, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, James Cannon, John Muldoon, Kieran Marmion, Tom Farrell, Tiernan O’Halloran.

We are pleased to announce the signing of former Ulster and Ireland U20 winger Rory Scholes for the 2017/18 season. Scholes moves from Edinburgh where he spent last season having previously scored five tries in 26 appearances for Ulster. The Belfast-born 24-year-old made nine appearances for Ireland U20s in the 2013 season scoring 33 points in the process.

Commenting on our latest signing, Assistant Coach Nigel Carolan said:

“We are delighted to have Rory Scholes on board for the coming season. Rory is an exciting player and he will add further quality to our squad for the season ahead.”

Speaking on his arrival in the Sportsground, Rory Scholes said:

“I am delighted to be joining Connacht ahead of the new season, particularly with an exciting new coaching team in place. I am looking forward to running out in the Sportsground and playing my part in what will hopefully be a successful season for the province.”

The best value to see all of our home games next season is through a Season Ticket, sign up here now to avoid disappointment. 

Related

Lock Joe Maksymiw signs for Connacht ahead of 2018/19 Season

Connacht Rugby confirm departing players
ALlloyd

Connacht Rugby confirm departing players

2 months ago
Boost for Connacht as Blade and Healy the latest to extend contracts
CBlade

Boost for Connacht as Blade and Healy the latest to extend contracts

5 months ago
Powerful Connacht performance secures bonus point win over conference rivals Cardiff
DHeffernan

Powerful Connacht performance secures bonus point win over conference rivals Cardiff

5 months ago