Connacht late show stuns Wasps

Date published: December 17 2016

A converted try from new signing Naulia Dawai in the final play of the game helped Connacht beat Wasps 20-18 at the Sportsground.

After a high quality first-half, the Irish province went into the break 13-7 ahead thanks to Danie Poolman’s try and two Jack Carty penalties.

Dai Young’s men response before the interval came through Joe Simpson’s touchdown and they brought proceedings to within three points after Jimmy Gopperth’s penalty.

Gopperth levelled matters from the tee with 13 minutes remaining before Bassett went over to take them ahead.

That looked to be game over but Connacht mustered one final effort and, after Dawai had crossed the whitewash, Carty added to extras to snatch a superb win.

Despite going down to the Midlanders 32-17 last weekend, the Irish province started that game brightly and this encounter followed the same pattern. Pat Lam’s side dominated the early exchanges of the match and were rewarded for their endeavour with a Carty penalty.

However, Wasps hit back with an excellently worked effort. Kurtley Beale showed his class in the move before Thomas Young and Nathan Hughes displayed their devastating power. The England international was eventually hauled down just short by a superb Kieran Marmion tackle, but Simpson was on hand to pick up and go over for a 7-3 lead.

That gave the visitors the momentum and they pressed for a second score through their driving maul, a passage of play which saw Tiernan O’Halloran sin-binned.

To their credit, the Galway outfit held on and a Bundee Aki break altered the direction of the tide. With the Wasps’ rearguard on the back foot they were penalised and Carty reduced the arrears to one point.

Connacht were now controlling possession and territory and the away side’s defence eventually succumbed when their fly-half found Poolman with a neat cross-field kick.

The hosts continued in that vein in the second period, putting together a number of excellent attacks, but Young’s men managed to repel the Irish side.

Having failed to take advantage of that dominance, the PRO12 outfit began to infringe and Gopperth kicked successive penalties to level the scores.

Wasps’ scrum was also getting on top and, following a turnover on the opposition five-metre line, Dan Robson fed Bassett and the wing crashed over.

That appeared to be the winning try but Connacht came back and equalised when a driving maul ended in Dawai touching down. It left Carty with a kick to take the spoils and the stand-off duly obliged.

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Tries: Poolman, Dawai
Cons: Carty 2
Pens: Carty 2

For Wasps:
Tries: Simpson, Bassett
Con: Gopperth
Pens: Gopperth 2

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon (c), 7 Nepia Fox-Matamua, 6 Eoin McKeon, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 JP Cooney, 18 Conor Carey, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Sean O’Brien, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Danie Poolman, 23 Naulia Dawai

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury (c), 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Alex Rieder, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Marty Moore, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 Frank Halai

Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant Referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Sébastien Cloute (France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)