Connacht back on track with bonus-point win

Connacht back on track with bonus-point win

Connacht 33 Dragons 12

James Cannon and Colby Fainga'a scored their first tries for Connacht to help set up the province's 33-12 bonus-point win over Dragons in the Guinness PRO14.

Andy Friend's men touched down three times in a devastating six-minute first-half spell, with winger Darragh Leader crossing in between the pair's efforts, and their bonus point was secured by hooker Tom McCartney's 39th-minute score.

Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

Trailing 26-0 at half-time, Hallam Amos lifted the Welshmen with a 56th-minute try and Taine Basham also scored late on, but Tom Farrell sandwiched in Connacht's fifth of the night.


Rebounding from last week's final-play defeat at Ospreys, the well-earned victory has moved Connacht temporarily up to third in the Conference A table, with Dragons, coached by former Connacht, Leinster and Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman, sitting second from bottom in Conference B.

The 5,146-strong Galway crowd watched a scoreless first quarter, though the home side were mostly on the front foot and a Tiernan O'Halloran kick to the corner almost set up Colm de Buitlear for his first senior try just a few days short of his 21st birthday.

Handling errors let Dragons down, and they missed a big opportunity when Harrison Keddie could not connect with Rhodri Williams on his shoulder.

Another gilt-edged chance went begging when lively number eight Basham failed to link with Dafydd Howells with a try looking likely.


Connacht soon made Dragons pay with a clinical display of finishing. Leader's kick downfield and Kyle Godwin's chase forced a lineout and lock Cannon plunged over from the 23rd-minute maul.

Australian fly-half David Horwitz, on his PRO14 debut, landed the tricky conversion and quick hands out to the right released Leader for his score just three minutes later.


A clever break from deep by Horwitz and final pass from Farrell gave Fainga'a the time and space to register a third try on the half-hour mark.

The stunned Dragons leaked a fourth by the interval, television match official Leo Colgan rubber-stamping McCartney's close-range try at the end of a sustained bout of forward pressure. Horwitz supplied his third successful conversion to put 26 points between the sides.

Kieran Marmion had a try ruled out on the resumption, before a series of scrum penalties saw Jackman's men gain precious territory.

Replacement James Thomas hurtled onto a pass and offloaded out of a tackle on the Connacht 22-metre line to send centre Amos weaving through for a smartly-finished try to the left of the posts.

However, Connacht wrestled back control of proceeedings, with Sean O'Brien pipping his back-row colleague Jarrad Butler to the man-of-the-match award.

Some slick handling across the back-line was matched by Farrell's neat footwork as he evaded three defenders for his seven-pointer with 11 minutes remaining.

Eoin Griffin came on to make his 100th appearance for Connacht and there were PRO14 debuts for Joe Maksymiw and Matthew Burke, before Basham's persistence paid off with a last-minute consolation score from a couple of metres out.