Rampant Connacht put 50 points on Oyonnax as they secure home Challenge Cup quarter-final
Connacht 50 Oyonnax 14
Niyi Adeolokun turned on the style with a hat-trick to wrap up a home quarter-final in the European Challenge Cup as Top 14 strugglers Oyonnax were put to the sword at the Sportsground on a day when Connacht started with ten international players.
Connacht were superb from the outset and wasted little time in ramming home their superiority and had the bonus point wrapped up by the end of the opening quarter.
Kieran Keane’s men were raging hit favourites but their failure to turn early dominance into scores has been a concern this season, but that wasn’t long being corrected yesterday.
Adeolokun gave them a perfect start with two tries in the opening three minutes as Oyonnax were left reeling.
Kieran Marmion was superb and he put fellow Irish squad member Bundee Aki over for the third try after just twelve minutes, with Craig Ronaldson’s conversion making it 19-0.
Oyonnax finally got their hands on the ball and built a few phases and they were rewarded when Puma full-back Alex Muller finished off a sustained bout of pressure with a converted try after17 minutes.
But the response from Connacht was excellent with Tiernan O’Halloran securing the bonus point after less than 20 minutes when set up by Matt Healy.
Adeolokun completed his hat-trick just before the half hour mark after another good move which prised open the Oyonnax rearguard.
And then Healy, the latest Connacht player to hit the 100 appearances mark, raced through to score in the left corner.
Oyonnax did not give up and winger Daniel Ikpefan pulled back a try before the break to leave it 36-14 at the interval.
Both sides emptied their benches after the restart and the game became more disjointed but Tom Farrell crossed for Connacht’s seventh try after 67 minutes, with O’Halloran adding his second conversion after taking over the kicking duties from the injured Craig Ronaldson.
They continued to turn the screw with a penalty try four minutes from the end of an impressive display.
Worcester will play their European Challenge Cup game away to Brive today after all when a new pitch was found to stage the match.
The Warriors had been due to meet their French opponents at the Stade Amedee Domenech at 3.30pm but the game was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch.
But instead the fixture will now be played at the Stade Alexandre Cueuille in Tulle with kick-off at 8pm. The two clubs are vying for a best runners-up spot in Pool 5 behind Connacht Rugby.