Tuesday 20 February 2018

Elwood demands more of the same

Connacht 83
Cavalieri Prato 7

Connacht's Ian Keatley is tackled by Mafi Winston Churchill of Cavalieri Prato during their Amlin Challenge Cup clash on Saturday. Photo: Ray Ryan / Sportsfile
Connacht's Ian Keatley is tackled by Mafi Winston Churchill of Cavalieri Prato during their Amlin Challenge Cup clash on Saturday. Photo: Ray Ryan / Sportsfile

John Fallon

Connacht went on the rampage at the Sportsground in Galway on Saturday night as they scored a record-breaking win to bring the curtain down on a disappointing Amlin Challenge Cup campaign.

Now coach Eric Elwood wants his men to repeat this lethal form until the end of the season.

Elwood feels that successive wins over Bayonne and Cavalieri has instilled plenty of confidence and he wants them to continue in this vein going forward.

"We were on the wrong side of some tight results over the past few months, but eventually got it right in Europe. It was good to win in France and then finish the pool off with a dozen tries.

"We're at home for six of the remaining games in the Magners League and have an awful lot to play for. This performance is a big boost.

"We have a small break now and will then regroup for the visit of Scarlets in a few weeks, so, hopefully, the finishing we have displayed in the last two games will be repeated. That's what we need to do," said Elwood.

Winger Brian Tuohy grabbed a hat-trick as Connacht gained revenge for the opening round shock defeat in Italy when running in 12 tries against a hapless Cavalieri Prato side.

It is Connacht's biggest ever win in Europe against the side who somehow managed to derail their Amlin Challenge Cup chances back in October.

The victory surpasses the 75-8 win over Spanish side Cetransa El Salvador three years ago -- and Ian Keatley's nine conversions broke the record eight held by his coach Eric Elwood.

Connacht led by 43-7 at the break and had a bonus point in the bag by the 26th minute when Mike McCarthy celebrated his call-up to the Irish squad this week by touching down in front of the watching Declan Kidney.

Trailed

Amazingly, Connacht had actually trailed at one stage when Prato No 8 Noa Soqueta got in for a try after 13 minutes, the Fijian's score cancelling an earlier effort from Brian Tuohy, before Alberto Chiesa edged the visitors in front with the conversion.

Tuohy, who completed his hat-trick in the second-half to double his try haul for the season, crossed again before the break, as did Niva Ta'auso, Fionn Carr and Keatley.

There was no let-up after the break as Connacht put victories back-to-back for the first time this season without ever having to step up their performance. Hooker Sean Cronin, with a typically busy display that will have impressed Kidney, crossed just after the restart and Tuohy completed his hat-trick after 52 minutes.

Ta'auso grabbed a second and No 8 Mike McComish and replacement hooker Adrian Flavin also got on the scoresheet as Connacht went on the rampage in stunning style.

Ray Ofisa made his return following a horrible head injury picked up in October and crossed for the final try to complete the rout.

The try haul was one short of the record 13 they scored against Cetransa El Salvador three years ago, but the main question the crowd must have been asking is how on earth did Connacht, semi-finalists against Toulon in this competition last May, lose to this Italian side in October?

Connacht -- G Duffy; F Carr, N Ta'auso, K Matthews (M Nikora, 52), B Tuohy (S Monahan, 57); I Keatley, F Murphy (C Willis, 57); B Wilkinson (R Loughney, 57), S Cronin (A Flavin, 47), J Hagan (R Ah You, 47); M McCarthy (B Upton, 47), M Swift; A Browne, S Conneely (R Ofisa, 50), M McComish.

Cavalieri Prato -- B Ngawini; W Mafi, C Von Grumbkov, S Rodwell (M Murgier, 40), N Tempestini (R Wakarua, 40); A Chiesa, S Canale (L Villagra, 68); L Poloni (A Goti, 56), L Giovanchelli (A Neri, 61), G Bocca (D Stefani, 40); L Beccaris, F Cazzola; L Petillo, F Cristano (N Belardo, 40), N Soqueta (G Marino, 68).

Ref -- L Cardona (France).

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport