Saturday 22 September 2018

Griffin try seals Connacht's comeback

Benetton Rugby 19 Connacht 22

Connacht’s Denis Buckley in action during yesterday’s win over Benetton Photo: Sportsfile
Connacht’s Denis Buckley in action during yesterday’s win over Benetton Photo: Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Connacht staged a powerful second-half comeback to start their tour of Italy and South Africa with victory in Treviso.

After a very sloppy opening half, the Westerners hit back with tries from Finlay Bealham, Jarrad Butler and Eoin Griffin, while Jack Carty kicked his last three shots at goal to wrap up the win.

John Muldoon of Connacht in action against Marco Barbini of Benetton Photo: Sportsfile
John Muldoon of Connacht in action against Marco Barbini of Benetton Photo: Sportsfile

A home defeat to Zebre last week was a huge setback for Connacht and, in the first half in Treviso, Kieran Keane's side were again a long way off the pace in attack. They could have taken the lead after four minutes but Carty miscued his penalty kick from the right, while their next two attacks were halted by knock-ons.

Connacht's struggles to exit their own territory efficiently gave Benetton a decent supply of attacking ball but they too failed to make the most of it - although the visitors got away lightly 20 minutes in when Matt Healy's high tackle denied Luca Sperandio a certain try, and referee Lloyd Linton and his TMO adjudged the tackle to be fair.

That Benetton attack was built from their own line when Connacht's attack malfunctioned after their rolling maul was stopped short, and 12 minutes from the interval their lineout problems returned when another foray into Benetton territory wasn't awarded.

Four minutes from the interval Benetton took a deserved lead when Tito Tebaldi broke off the back of a maul and stretched to score the opening try, which Marty Banks converted for a 7-0 half-time lead.

Caolin Blade of Connacht in action Photo: Sportsfile
Caolin Blade of Connacht in action Photo: Sportsfile

Throughout the first half though, Connacht's maul was a potent weapon, and four minutes after the break they got back in contention when Bealham scored after another strong surge, although Carty was unable to add the extras from the right.

Connacht were unable to build on that score though and instead Benetton hit back when Banks picked Monty Ioane with a brilliant cross-field kick, and the winger showed stunning pace to run clear for a 12-5 lead.

Less than three minutes later Connacht recovered when Butler ran in Cian Kelleher's inside pass and Carty converted to level the scores at 12-12.

Ten minutes from time Tomasso Iannone was penalised for a tip tackle on Tom Farrell, and Carty kicked Connacht into the lead. Then, in the closing stages, Eoin Griffin crossed for Connacht's third try to clinch the win, while Marco Fuser sealed a bonus for Benetton at the death.

 

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