Monday 25 March 2019

Carty won't let Ireland down - Friend

Connacht 25 Cheetahs 17

Nico Lee of Toyota Cheetahs is tackled by Stephen Fitzgerald of Connacht. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Nico Lee of Toyota Cheetahs is tackled by Stephen Fitzgerald of Connacht. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

It's safe to assume that the next time Jack Carty laces up his boots for Connacht he'll become the province's leading points scorer of all time, but it was his game management that caught Andy Friend's eye as they claimed a vital conference win over Cheetahs.

Five more points will see Carty overtake Ian Keatley at the top of Connacht's scoring charts, but he might have to wait for a little while to get another provincial run if he continues to improve.

Cian Kelleher of Connacht is tackled by Tian Schoeman of Toyota Cheetahs. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Cian Kelleher of Connacht is tackled by Tian Schoeman of Toyota Cheetahs. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Carty has been rewarded for the form of his life with a slot in Ireland's Six Nations squad and if Johnny Sexton or Joey Carbery are left out of the trip to Italy next weekend, Carty will surely miss out on Connacht's clash with Glasgow.

"For Jack Carty, I'd love for him to be in Rome, for Connacht I'd love for him to be in Glasgow," said Friend.

"But whether it's Jack or any other fellas, when they get the call-up, they won't let their country down, I know they won't. They are quality footballers and I think their call-up is coming soon enough, so with pride I'd say go get them."

Carty, Ultan Dillane, Tom Farrell and Caolin Blade all started on Saturday following three weeks with Ireland and all four impressed.

Jarrad Butler of Connacht is tackled by Nico Lee of Toyota Cheetahs. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Jarrad Butler of Connacht is tackled by Nico Lee of Toyota Cheetahs. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Dillane robbed two lineouts, carried well and defended stoutly, Blade was bright, while Farrell's first-half try was a key score that kept Connacht in touch.

Also back in the side for the first time since the Ireland win over New Zealand was Kieran Marmion, who logged a successful 20 minutes off the bench.

"Kieran has been good, he's been tenacious, you saw that there tonight. It's been three months that he hasn't played football too, so for him to come out there at a crucial part of the game and to hold his nerve was really important. It's great to have him back in the squad."

First-half tries for Rabz Maxwane and Louis Fouche were reward for Cheetahs' early brilliant, but after Farrell hit back, Tom McCartney gave Connacht the lead with a mauled try after the break.

Jasper Wiese of Toyota Cheetahs is tackled by Ultan Dillane of Connacht. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Jasper Wiese of Toyota Cheetahs is tackled by Ultan Dillane of Connacht. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Shaun Venter levelled with a super try for Cheetahs, but Carty's territorial kicking, his late penalty and Jarrad Butler's try at the death secured Connacht the win and denied their play-off rivals a losing bonus.

"Every game becomes a must-win now because we're playing everyone that's around us; Cheetahs were two points behind, we're six ahead now," said Friend.

"Glasgow are just ahead of us... our destiny is very much in our hands.

"We have to make sure we're not watching what they're doing. If we keep winning, playing our brand of football, we control our destiny."

Colby Fainga'a of Connacht is tackled by Gerhard Oliver and JP du Preez of Toyota Cheetahs. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Colby Fainga'a of Connacht is tackled by Gerhard Oliver and JP du Preez of Toyota Cheetahs. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Connacht - D Leader; C Kelleher, T Farrell, T Daly (K Godwin 73), S Fitzgerald; J Carty, C Blade (K Marmion 59); D Buckley (P McCabe 62), T McCartney (D Heffernan, 56), F Bealham (D Robertson-McCoy 62); U Dillane (C Gallagher 73), J Cannon; E McKeon (P Boyle 56), C Fainga'a, J Butler (c).

Toyota Cheetahs - L Fouche; W Small-Smith (T Meyer 80), D Swanepoel, N Lee, S Maxwane; T Schoeman (c), S Venter (R Paige 78); O Nche (L de Bruin 50), M van der Merwe (J du Tiot 80), J Coetzee (O Nche 70); J Wiese (S Manjezi 50), JP du Preez (W Steenkamp 50); A Nonkontwana, J Pokomela (H Venter 54), G Olivier.

Ref - N Owens (WRU).

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