Friday 19 January 2018

Nikora left kicking himself as Connacht pay price for last-gasp miss

Connacht 15 Ospreys 16

John Fallon

Connacht let a glorious chance of victory over the reigning Magners League champions slip from their grasp at the Sportsground last night.

Connacht led all the way against the understrength Ospreys but got hit with a last-minute try.

Even then, Connacht still got one chance to win it with the last kick of the game.

Miah Nikora, who landed five from six prior to that, struck the kick from 35 metres out on the right wing, and it seemed to be going over, but it ran out of gas.

It was a bitterly disappointing outcome to a game where Connacht raced into a 9-0 lead in the opening quarter but just never pulled away.

The Welsh fought back and levelled in the third quarter but again Connacht pulled clear with Nikora landing two more penalties in the final 10 minutes to make it 15-9 as time ran out.

The Ospreys forced another penalty and went to the left corner and while it seemed that Connacht had weathered the storm after several phases, the Welsh went infield again and replacement full-back Barry Davies cut an excellent line to score the game's only try under the posts.


Matthew Jarvis made no mistake with the conversion to put the champions ahead for the first time in the game.

And yet Connacht also won it from the restart after Ospreys were penalised for hands in the ruck. But Nikora, starting his first Magners League game of the season, saw his kick fall short and Connacht fell to their fourth defeat in a row.

It had all started so brightly with Nikora finding the range after just three minutes and continued pressure yielded another chance which the Kiwi slotted over five minutes later.

Connacht needed a try to reflect their dominance but had to settle for another Nikora penalty after 18 minutes. However, Ospreys settled and 18-year-old out-half Matthew Morgan landed a brace of penalties.

It was 9-6 at the interval but Morgan levelled in the third quarter after Connacht held out with their lock Bernie Upton in the bin for 10 minutes.

Another brace from Nikora looked to have secured a third win of the campaign but once again Connacht came out the wrong side of a tight finish.

Connacht -- G Duffy; T Nathan, E Griffin, K Matthews, F Carr (D Fanning 68); M Nikora, F Murphy; B Wilkinson (D Rogers 64), D Murphy (R Loughney 64), J Hagan (B Fa'amausili 51); M Swift, B Upton (E Taylor 61); M McCarthy, J O'Connor, J Muldoon (A Browne 63).

Ospreys -- G Owen (B Davies 57); K Phillips, S Parker, A Beck, R Fussell; M Morgan (M Jarvis 71), R Webb (J Nutbrown 57); D Jones (C Griffiths 73), M Davies, C Mitchell; C McInerney (J Goode 40), I Evans (J King 71) ; J Tipuric, M Holah, J Collins.

Ref -- P Allan (Scotland).

Irish Independent

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