Monday 25 March 2019

Carty steers Connacht home

Connacht 25 Cheetahs 17

Jack Carty of Connacht kicks a conversion supported by Darragh Leader. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Jack Carty of Connacht kicks a conversion supported by Darragh Leader. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Jarrad Butler's late try secured a precious win for Connacht against play-off rivals Cheetahs as the Jack Carty-inspired home side fought hard to secure the points.

Carty's only miss from the tee on a difficult night was his last-minute conversion attempt, and he kicked brilliantly to the corners when his side needed a settling presence in a tough second half.

Nico Lee of Toyota Cheetahs is tackled by Eoin McKeon of Connacht. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Nico Lee of Toyota Cheetahs is tackled by Eoin McKeon of Connacht. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Tries from Rabz Maxwane and Louis Fouche had got Cheetahs off to a flying start, but Tom Farrell and Tom McCartney efforts kept Connacht in touch.

The Cheetahs, on the back of four consecutive wins, started brightly, and went ahead when a chip through from Nico Lee saw Maxwane score in the left corner.

Carty pulled back three points from a penalty, but William Small-Smith sent Fouche over for an unconverted try.

With 55 tries scored and 54 conceded by Cheetahs this season prior to this game, it was inevitable that there was more to come, and Farrell soon powered over. The loss of Lee to the sin-bin was a blow for the Cheetahs, but Connacht squandered a series of chances and trailed 12-10 at half-time.

Shaun Venter of Toyota Cheetahs goes over to score his sides second try. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Shaun Venter of Toyota Cheetahs goes over to score his sides second try. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

They went ahead soon after the break. When Colby Fainga'a won a penalty on halfway, Carty kicked to the corner, Butler won the lineout - Connacht had lost one in a similar position minutes earlier - and McCartney scored off the tail of the maul. Carty landed the conversion from the right to put his side 17-12 ahead.

It was Cheetahs' turn to make a mess of a five-metre lineout when Connacht forced a turnover after the maul, but moments later Gerhard Olivier stripped the ball from a Connacht ball carrier and quick hands freed Shaun Venter, who showed stunning speed to score from his own 22, which levelled matters with 20 minutes remaining.

After an important lineout steal from Ultan Dillane, Carty's impressive territorial game put Connacht on the front foot. The out-half's penalty restored the lead, and Butler wrapped up the win with a last-minute try.

 

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