Saturday 24 August 2019

Connacht flex muscles to punish 14-man Newport Dragons

Dragons 25 Connacht 30

Connacht's David McSharry breaks through the tackle of Boris Stankovich of Newport Gwent Dragons during their Guinness Pro12 clash at Rodney Parade. Photo: Steve Pope / SPORTSFILE
Connacht's David McSharry breaks through the tackle of Boris Stankovich of Newport Gwent Dragons during their Guinness Pro12 clash at Rodney Parade. Photo: Steve Pope / SPORTSFILE
Connacht's John Cooney breaks through the Newport Gwent Dragons defence during their Guinness Pro12 clash at Rodney Parade. Photo: Steve Pope / SPORTSFILE
Connacht's Eoghan Masterson holds off a challenge from Matthew Pewtner of Newport Gwent Dragons during their Guinness Pro12 clash at Rodney Parade. Photo: Steve Pope / SPORTSFILE

Rob Cole

Connacht moved back into the top six in the Guinness Pro12 thanks largely to the stupidity of Dragons skipper Rynard Landman, who earned himself a red card after only 15 minutes.

The lock threw an elbow at Jack Carty's face after the Connacht No 10 had kicked downfield.

The Dragons had already lost control of the early exchanges by the time Landman trudged off. Tom Prydie kicked a long-range penalty to open the scoring for the home side, but Connacht stormed back with a try by centre Craig Ronaldson and a conversion and penalty from Carty.

Things went from bad to worse for the first 10 minutes the Dragons were down to 14 men. They lost two scrums, saw Carty miss with two more kicks at goal and then conceded another try from a close-range lineout, this time to No 8 Eoghan Masterson.

Carty's conversion left the Dragons with a mountain to climb and it took the introduction of 38-year-old former Wales lock Ian Gough to inject some life into the home pack.

Giant

Two giant driving mauls got them down into the Connacht 22 and from the pressure created they were able to send Wales wing Hallam Amos nipping through on the narrow side of a ruck to cross for a try.

Prydie couldn't add the extras, but he did land a penalty with the last kick of the half to reduce the gap to 17-11.

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The second half became a game of inches; the Connacht forwards controlled the ball better and their tackling was heroic. There was stalemate for virtually the whole of the third quarter before Connacht made their territory tell as Leader kicked two penalties.

Back came the Dragons and after some great driving play Jack Dixon squeezed over for a try which Prydie converted to cut the gap to five points with 15 minutes to go.

The Westerners' superior kicking game kept the Dragons pegged back in their own half and when Amos tried to kick clear from his 22 his kick was charged down by Mick Kearney, who followed up to grab the touchdown for the try that ended any hopes of a Dragons comeback.

Leader added the conversion and it mattered little that Amos grabbed a second try with the last move of the game, Prydie clinching a bonus point with his conversion.

Dragons: J Tovey (M Pewtner 10); T Prydie, J Dixon, A Smith, H Amos; D Jones, J Evans (R Rees 65); B Stankovich (L Fairbrother 79), TR Thomas (R Buckley 65), B Harris (D Way 79), A Coombs, R Landman (captain), J Thomas, N Cudd (I Gough 26), N Crosswell.

Connacht: D Leader; D Poolman, D McSharry, C Ronaldson, M Healy (N Adeolokun 79); J Carty (T O'Halloran 48), J Cooney (I Porter 79); D Buckley (F Bealham 35-41, JP Coney 79), T McCartney (S Delahunt 79), R Ah You (F Bealham 65), Q Roux (M Kearney 56), A Muldowney, J Muldoon (captain), J Heenan, E Masterson (G Naoupu 70).

Referee: L Linton (SRU).

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