Carr's try sends Dragons packing
Published 18/03/2010 | 05:00
Connacht coach Michael Bradley challenged his men to win their four remaining home games in the Magners League and they duly delivered at the Sportsground last night in the first of the tasks.
A superb try from Fionn Carr, in a move which started deep inside his own 22, was the decisive score of the night as Connacht maintained their unbeaten run at the venue since September.
Indeed, the margin of victory does scant justice to Connacht's superiority, although the Dragons, who turned over Munster last time out, defended well throughout.
A knee injury to outside centre Niva Ta'auso in the second half will be a cause for concern as their Challenge Cup quarter-final against Bourgoin draws near.
But Connacht will be content with the way they stayed in control throughout, having let a winning position slip last time out against Glasgow Warriors when they had to settle for a draw in the end.
The outcome of this one was never in doubt, and Ian Keatley settled home nerves with a penalty after eight minutes, before adding a similar kick from 20 metres seven minutes later to make it 6-0.
It was the perfect start for Connacht and they grew in confidence after that and just as the Dragons started to come into the game, Carr struck for his fifth try of the campaign.
Scrum-half Conor O'Loughlin started the move with a superb break from inside his own 22 to send Carr away down the left but the chance seemed to be lost when his fly-kick spun infield.
However, the other winger, Liam Bibo, had come inside and he superbly gained possession and passed back over his head to send Carr racing through from 25 metres to score under the posts.
Keatley added the points to put Connacht 13-0 in front after 19 minutes but just when it seemed they would pull away, the Dragons hit back for a penalty from James Tovey four minutes later and the margin might have been tighter had he not missed a penalty seven minutes from the break.
Connacht dominated the second half, but all they had to show for their efforts was another penalty from Keatley four minutes after the restart.
Superb work by lock Mike Swift, skipper John Muldoon and centre Keith Matthews ensured plenty of possession for Michael Bradley's men.
However, they were unable to increase their lead with Keatley failing to find the range with a brace of penalties in the third quarter.
The Welsh were disciplined in defence and the pace of Will Harries and Aled Brew on the wings was always a threat on the counter-attack.
The Dragons staged a series of attacks in the closing stages in a bid to salvage a bonus point, but while they got within a metre of the Connacht line, the home defence was in superb form and they did not yield an inch.
Keeping their line intact will be a huge confidence booster for Bradley's men ahead of the tests against Leinster and Edinburgh before they take on Bourgoin on April 10.
Connacht -- G Duffy; L Bibo, N Ta'auso (A Wynne 59), K Matthews, F Carr; I Keatley (M Nikora 66), C O'Loughlin (K Campbell 64); B Wilkinson (R Loughney 78), A Flavin, J Hagan (R Morris 59); M Swift (B Upton 74), M McCarthy; J Muldoon, R Ofisa (M McComish 66), G Naoupu.
Dragons -- M Thomas; W Harries, M Watkins (J Arlidge 78), A Smith (T Riley 37), A Brew; J Tovey, W Evans ( 74); H Gustafson, T Willis, B Castle (P Palmer 50); R Sidoli, H MacDonald; T Faletau (A Brown 66), G Thomas, G Webb (A Coombs 50).
Ref -- A Macpherson (Scotland).