Wednesday 7 December 2016

Lam praises massive Connacht away win

Ospreys 16 Connacht 21

Published 25/10/2015 | 02:30

Connacht’s Ultan Dillane is tackled by Ospreys’ Sam Davies during the game in Swansea
Connacht’s Ultan Dillane is tackled by Ospreys’ Sam Davies during the game in Swansea
Craig Ronaldson, Connacht, is tackled by Sam Davies
Connacht's Quinn Roux is tackled by Richard Fussell

Connacht issued a statement of intent to the rest of the Pro12 with a first victory at the Liberty Stadium.

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Matt Healy and Bundee Aki scored in either half before a resilient defensive display comfortably withstood a late Ospreys revival inspired by British Lion Justin Tipuric.

Connacht even managed to hold out for a first win away to the four-time champions in 11 years, since success at The Gnoll in Neath back in 2004, despite Jack Carty missing three kicks on his return from injury.

Ospreys flyhalf Sam Davies missed five kicks and a potential 13 points.

Connacht head coach Pat Lam said: "It's a massive achievement to win here. We've had some tough games over the years against a team regularly challenging for the title. These are the games we have to win to make the step up to Champions Cup rugby."

Connacht recovered from a shaky start, conceding a penalty inside three minutes, losing skipper Tiernan O'Halloran to a head injury and then a try to Dan Baker.

Man of the match Aki and scrumhalf Kieron Marmion were at the heart of Connacht attack. The best opportunity, on 19 minutes, saw Quinn Roux denied a try by the touch-judge but saw Ospreys centre Josh Matavesi binned.

Carty reduced the deficit to 8-6 but it took eight of the ten minutes Matavesi was off the field to make the most of the extra man.

Connacht cleverly turned the scrum just enough for Marmion to spot a acres of space on the blindside and sent wing Healy over for an easy finish on 28 minutes.

They extended their 11-8 half-time lead just four minutes after the break when Aki showed his immense strength, dragging three defenders over the line with him.

Ospreys sent an SOS to their bench and Wales trio Tipuric, Paul James and Aaron Jarvis turned the game the way of the hosts. Tipuric cut Connacht's lead to 18-16 with 11 minutes remaining but Craig Ronaldson held his nerve with a late penalty.

Scorers - Ospreys: D Baker, J Tipuric try each; S Davies 2 pens. Connacht: M Healy, B Aki try each; J Carty 2 pens, C Ronaldson pen, con.

Ospreys: R Fussell (D Evans, 61); T Grabham, B John, J Matavesi, E Walker; S Davies, B Leonard (T Habberfield, 61); R Bevington (P James, 49), S Parry (S Otten, 34-40, 61), D Arhip (A Jarvis, 52), L Ashley (capt), R Thornton (R Bernardo, 74), J King, D Baker (J Bearman, 67), S Underhill (J Tipuric, 49).

Connacht: T O'Halloran (capt), N Adeolokun, 14, R Parata, 65); D Leader, B Aki, C Ronaldson, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, S Delahunt (D Heffernan, 62), R Ah You (F Bealham, 70), Q Roux (U Dillane, 61), A Muldowney, E McKeon (J Muldoon, 50), E Masterson, N Fox-Matamua. Rep not used: I Porter.

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)

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