Connacht too good for Dragons

Date published: September 4 2015

Connacht kicked off their PRO12 campaign in style with a hard-fought 29-23 victory over the Dragons in Galway on Friday.

A late try from Fionn Carr secured the win for the hosts after a spirited display by the Dragons.

Connacht wasted little time in gaining the front foot. A penalty five minutes in set the early tone, with Jack Carty firing through the posts for the first score of this new campaign.

Within 10 minutes, a three point lead became six, when Carty again made no mistake from a penalty inside the 10-metre line, the hosts starting the season in fine form. 

Dragons salvaged the chance of halving the deficit, Carl Meyer squandering a penalty opportunity and firing wide in a poor opening for the Welsh side. 

Carty made him pay once again, making it three from three just after the 20 minute mark. The hosts continued to do most of the running early on, and they were finally able to turn territory into tries. 

Neat hands from Quinn Roux in a line-out turned into a maul, which Nepia Fox-Matamua the man with ball in hand for the opening five pointer. Carty kicked the conversion wide however, though Connacht did still have an impressive 14 point led early on in proceedings. 

The visitors did have some reason to smile before the break though, as a penalty seconds before the referee's whistle from Jason Tovey finally put them on the board. 

It took just one minute from the referee's whistle signalling the start of the second half for Newport to reach double figures as they went over in a flash. 

Scrum-half Sarel Pretorious bundled over the line, with Tovey adding three more points to bridge the half-time gap between the two sides. 

Not that Newport had their nose back in the game for long, Connacht grabbing another try seven minutes later. 

After the ball escaped from the scrum, JP Cooney fed Tiernan O'Halloran, whose pass saw Danie Poolman race over, Carty missing the conversion attempt. 

Tovey kicked through three more points to keep the visitors chances alive, but Connacht continued to enjoy possession, Carty kicking through again as the hosts kept breathing space between their opposition. 

But the Dragons put a final 10 minute spell together that saw them camp themselves inside the Connacht half. After prolongued pressure, the lead was just two points. 

That came after replacement James Thomas drove over, finishing off constant pressure, with Tovey's kick setting up a grand finale. 

But Connacht eased the pressure with a try from Fionn Carr as the clock wound down, as Connacht opened their season with home victory.

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Tries: Fox-Matamua, Poolman, Carr
Con: Carty
Pens: Carty 4

For Dragons:
Tries: Pretorius, J Thomas
Cons: Tovey 2
Pens: Tovey 2, Prydie

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O'Halloran, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoghan Masterson, 7 Nepia Fox-Matamua, 6 John Muldoon (c), 5 Andrew Browne, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 JP Cooney, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Ben Marshall, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 John Cooney, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Fionn Carr.

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Ross Wardle, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Nick Crosswell, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Cory Hill, 3 Shaun Knight, 2 T. Rhys Thomas (c), 1 Boris Stankovich.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Phil Price, 18 Brok Harris, 19 James Thomas, 20 James Benjamin, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Dorian Jones, 23 Tyler Morgan.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)