Connacht 27

Gloucester 24 

A last minute try from Robin Copeland deep into injury time sent the Sportsground crowd wild and secured a win that looked unlikely when they trailed 13 points to Gloucester’s 24 with 4 minutes remaining. Connacht had dominated possession and territory throughout but some vital errors inside the opposition 22 looked like they would cost them the game.

When Shane Delahunt got over for Connacht’s second try with just three minutes on the clock the home side turned the momentum of the last 20 minutes. Copeland’s try came at the end of an extraordinary 20 phase sequence of play that saw Tom Daly offload to the replacement number 8 who ran in under the posts.

It was Connacht who had drawn first blood when outhalf Conor Fitzgerald kicked a penalty in the 14th minute. It was an important score for the 22 year old as Connacht had been reduced to 14 men when Eoin McKeon picked up a yellow card four minutes earlier. After a sustained period of pressure and a try already disallowed, Caolin Blade crawled over on the half hour mark. When Fitzgerald landed the conversion Connacht looked in control as they stood 10 points to the good.

That dominance was to be short lived though as Gerbrandt Grobler got in for a Gloucester try 2 minutes after Blade’s effort. While Connacht had another chance on the stroke of half time, the advantage remained 10-7 to the home side at the break.

Gloucester came out with a renewed enthusiasm in the second half and within five minutes were in front with a Mark Atkinson try which they failed to convert.

When Billy Twelvetrees got Gloucester’s third in the 66th minute, the away side were driving for a bonus point win. They didn’t have to wait long for the try and Atkinson was in again in the 69th minute. At this stage, with Gloucester winning 24 to 13, even the most optimistic Connacht supporters would have thought a win was almost impossible and even a losing bonus point was unlikely.

But the home side showed incredible belief and and when replacement hooker Delahunt got in, the momentum and the crowd were right behind Connacht.

Copeland’s try in injury time will be added to the many magical Sportsground moments that Connacht have witnessed in the Champions Cup. Their never say attitude tees them up nicely for the series of interpro fixtures over the Christmas period.

Munster at home are first in that trilogy – they come to the Sportsground on Saturday December 21st. Its expected to be another cracker!

Tickets available here.

Connacht Scorers:

Tries – C Blade, S Delahunt, R Copeland

Conversions – C Fitzgerald (3)

Penalties – C Fitzgerald (2)

Connacht: Jack Carty,  Niyi Adeolokun (Tom Daly),  Kyle Godwin, Bundee Aki, John Porch, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade ( Stephen Kerins), Peter McCabe (Denis Buckley), Dave Heffernan (Shane Delahunt), Dominic Robertson McCoy (Finlay Bealham), Ultan Dillane,  Joe Maksymiw (Niall Murray), Eoin McKeon (Eoghan Masterson), Jarrad Butler, Paul Boyle (Robin Copeland)

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