Connacht too strong for Dragons

Date published: September 6 2014

Eoin McKeon and Danie Poolman scored tries as Connacht edged out the Dragons 16-11 at the Sportsground.

Eoin McKeon and Danie Poolman scored tries as Connacht edged out the Dragons 16-11 at the Sportsground.

Neither side made much of an impression on the competition last season, and today's match offered an early opportunity to lay down a marker.

And it was a more controlled performance from the hosts in the second half that proved to be the difference following an evenly-contested opening quarter.

McKeon scored the first points of the season for Connacht after ten minutes when he was on the end of a fantastic team move, and excellent work from Niyi Adeolokun.

Darragh Leader was wide with the conversion but he added a penalty six minutes later to stretch the advantage to eight points.

But the Dragons responded in kind later in the second half. Nic Cudd benefited from fast hands to crash over and, though the conversion was missed, Jason Tovey added a penalty soon after to level the scores.

It remained that way well into the second half, with Leader adding a second penalty goal on 53 minutes to edge the hosts back in front. And, when Poolman snapped up Jack Carty's kick to add Connacht's second try, there was real daylight between the two teams once more.

The Dragons rallied in the minutes that followed and appeared capable of finding a way back into the game.

But stubborn Connacht defence stifled any real opportunities for further tries, and sound discipline ensured the deficit remained at eight. Tovey did add a second penalty at the death, but by then it was only enough for a losing bonus point.

For Connacht:
Tries: McKeon, Poolman
Penalties: Leader
Yellow Card: McSharry

For Dragons:
Tries: Cudd
Penalties: Tovey 2
Yellow Cards: Byrne, Morgan

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Shane Layden, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Darragh Leader, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Danie Poolman, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Ian Porter, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 John Muldoon (c), 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Nathan White, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Sean Henry, 17 Finlay Bealham, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 George Naoupu, 20 Willie Faloon, 21 Kieran ,Marmion 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Conor Finn.

Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Lee Byrne (c), 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Andy Powell, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Andrew Coombs, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Boris Stankovich.
Replacements: 16 T. Rhys Thomas, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Dan Way, 19 Ian Gough, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Dorian Jones, 22 Geraint Rhys Jones, 23 Barney Nightingale.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Mark Connolly (Ireland)