Danie Poolman seals deal as Connacht hold Falcons at arm's length
Connacht 25-10 Newcastle
Published 12/12/2015 | 02:30
The scoreline may flatter Connacht somewhat but there is no doubting Pat Lam's men know to win matches this season.
Falcons cut the gap to just two points in the closing stages but that was when Connacht showed their greater resolve to wrap up a fine victory.
Danie Poolman, a late replacement, chased his own grubber to score their only try of the contest five minutes from time to kill of a brave Newcastle side.
And with Jack Carty contributing 20 points in a seven from eight return, Connacht had enough in their armoury to make it three wins from three in the pool.
Connacht coach Pat Lam has had to contend with a particularly high number of injuries this season and that problem was exacerbated before this one when captain for the evening Tiernan O'Halloran was forced to withdraw with a quad injury.
That necessitated further change with winger Matt Healy, who last week spent the second half at scrum-half in Cardiff, switched to No 15 as the list of players unavailable for this one stretched to 22.
South African Poolman came into the side on the wing with Dave McSharry, selected on the bench for today's Connacht Eagles clash against Jersey, being drafted on to the bench.
Newcastle, going through a woeful start to the campaign - their only win in their eight games came against Russian minnows Enisei-STM - changed the entire 15 who were hammered 38-3 in their own backyard last weekend by champions Saracens as Dean Richards gave his younger players a run.
He did the same for the opening round in Brive and was rewarded with a bonus point against the in-form French side, and the Falcons were again willing to roll up their sleeves and battle away last night at the Sportsground.
It meant that while Connacht dominated the opening half hour they had to be content with a 6-0 lead, with Carty edging them in front with a penalty in front of the posts after six minutes and then doubling their lead from 40 metres towards the end of the opening quarter.
A combination of some sloppy handling by Connacht some good defensive lines by the visitors resulted in the Falcons remaining in contention to the break.
Indeed, they cut the gap six minutes from the interval when Craig Willis made no mistake with his first kick of the evening when he landed a penalty from the left on the 22.
However, Carty cancelled that just before the interval when Carty steered an effort from 20 metres on the right to leave it 9-3 at the interval.
Connacht badly need to kill off the game early in the second half and Carty made it 12-3 after 48 minutes with an excellent penalty from 35 metres on the right after centre Peter Robb had executed another good turnover.
But Newcastle refused to give up and captain Richard Mayhew almost got over in the left corner after a sweeping move.
The visitors kept pressing and were rewarded when a lineout drive ended with a try which was credited to Mayhew and which Willis converted to leave just two between them after 58 minutes.
Carty had a penalty almost immediately afterwards but didn't find the range from 40 metres but he kept his nerve to steer one over from a similar distance two minutes later.
Connacht lost centre Rory Parata to a yellow card after 68 minutes but there was a let-off when replacement Juan Socino missed the penalty in front of the posts.
That was to prove costly for the visitors as Carty landed one at the other end to put eight between them.
And then Poolman broke through to score five minutes from the break to wrap up the victory as Connacht maintained their winning run at home to stay right on course for the knockout stages.
Connacht - M Healy (S O'Leary 73); N Adeolokun, R Parata, P Robb, D Poolman; J Carty (D McSharry 78), C Blade; F Bealham (C O'Donnell 76), J Harris-Wright (S Delahunt 55), N White (R Ah You 55); U Dillane, A Muldowney; S O'Brien (D Qulater 66), J Connolly (D Heffernan 69), G Naoupu.
Newcastle Falcons - S Hammersley; D Marshall (M Watson 66), T Penny, C Harris, Z Kibirige; C Willis (J Socino 65), S Takulua; A Rogers (B Harris 71), S Lawson (R Hawkins 65), T Vea; W Witty, M Botha (C Green 77); R Mayhew, D Temm, A Hogg.
Ref - T Charabas (FFR)