Monday 19 March 2018

Duffy completes Connacht comeback

Connacht 17 Newport Gwent Dragons 13

An excellent second-half display from Connacht earned them their third win of the season in the Sportsground last night.

Eoin Griffin and skipper Gavin Duffy crossed for Connacht tries to seal the win as Dragons' search for a first away win since February continues.

The visitors had looked in total control at the break, holding a 10-point lead, but a driving second-half performance from Eric Elwood's outfit saw them pick up the four points.

It didn't look good for the home side when Nathan Williams cruised over for a try under the Connacht posts in the 31st minute, but the introduction of Matthew Jarvis in the second half triggered the Connacht comeback.

It had all started so well for Dragons. Jason Tovey, who had just missed one kick all season, was given the chance to give the Newport side the lead after two minutes, but in the swirling Sportsground wind his attempt glanced wide off the post.

However, five minutes later, from a similar position, Tovey made amends after Connacht were penalised for failing to roll away from the tackle.

Connacht responded and when Dragons flanker Gavin Thomas was penalised for not releasing the tackled player after 11 minutes, Niall O'Connor made no mistake from the penalty.

Six minutes later, the former Ulster fly-half should have given the home side the lead, but he pushed his penalty wide from a kickable position inside the 10-metre line.

And just after the half-hour mark Connacht's inaccuracy was punished when Pat Leach cut a terrific line through the Connacht defence and set winger Matthew Pewtner free.

Pewtner was held up just short of the line, but after rolling through two quick phases, prop Williams ploughed over for a well deserved Dragons try, which Tovey converted.

Four minutes later it was full-back Martyn Thomas who broke through the Connacht defence with a mazy run from deep. But after a last-gasp try-saving tackle by Frank Murphy, the home side were caught offside and Tovey slotted the kick to give Dragons a 13-3 lead at the break.

However, just before the hour mark Connacht started to eat into their advantage. Replacement fly-half Jarvis brought a real bite to Connacht's attack, and after he set Griffin free down the left, the centre exchanged passes with Tiernan O'Halloran to touch down.

Jarvis slotted a super conversion from the left touchline to push Connacht to within three points of the opponents and nine minutes later his side took the lead when Duffy crashed over in the corner.

Once again Jarvis nailed the conversion from the touchline to give Connacht a 17-13 success.

Connacht -- G Duffy; B Tuohy, E Griffin, H Fa'afili, T O'Halloran; N O'Connor, F Murphy (P O'Donohoe 56); B Wilkinson (R Loughney 48), E Reynecke (A Flavin 48), R Ah You (D Rogers 56); D Gannon, M McCarthy; J Muldoon, J O'Connor ( 54), R Ofisa (TJ Anderson 61).

NG Dragons -- M Thomas (D Waters 71); M Pewtner, P Leach (T Riley 37), A Smith, G O'Driscoll; J Tovey, J Bedford; N Williams, T Willis (R Buckley 63), D Way (N Buck 51); A Jones (J Groves 75), R Sidoli; L Evans, G Thomas, A Coombs.

REF -- L Hodges (WRU).

Irish Independent

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