Connacht 43 Lions 24
Jack Carty became Connacht’s all-time top points scorer when his tally of 13 points was more than enough to take him past Eric Elwood’s 1,152 haul.
But, more importantly, Connacht kept their hopes of a knockout place in the URC alive with a deserved bonus point win in a cracking contest in perfect conditions at the Sportsground.
Connacht had the bonus point in the bag by the 36th minutes when Carty set up Tiernan O’Halloran for their fourth try and by then the out-half had become the province’s top scorer.
That happened when he converted Caolin Blade’s sniping try ten minutes earlier as he surpassed the six points needed to beat Elwood’s record.
Winger Diarmuid Kilgallen gave them a perfect start when he crossed after just three minutes and while the Lions hit back through the boot of Jordan Hendrikse and giant 138kg prop Asenathi Ntlabakanye to lead 10-8 before hooker Shane Delahunt crossed for Connacht after a penalty to the left corner.
And with Niall Murray superb up front and scrum-half Blade dictating matters, Connacht got control again to lead by 29-17 at the interval.
O’Halloran charged down a Hendrikse clearance for Blade to get his second try four minutes after the restart and the scrum-half from Monivea, who signed a three-year contract extension two weeks ago, completed his hat-trick after 62 minutes.
Scorers: Connacht: C Blade (3), D Kilgallen, S Delahunt, T O’Halloran. Cons: J Carty (5). Pen: Carty.
Lions: Tries: A Ntlabakanye, H van Wyk, M Louw. Cons: J Hendrikse (3). Pen: Hendrikse
Connacht: T O’Halloran (O McNulty 57); D Kilgallen (D Tierney-Martin 39-42), T Farrell, C Forde (T Daly 61), J Porch; J Carty (c), C Blade (K Marmion 64); P Dooley (J Duggan 61), S Delahunt (Tierney-Martin 57), J Aungier (D Robertson-McCoy 59); D Murray (L Fifita 68), N Murray; J Murphy (S Hurley-Langton 59), C Oliver (Hurley-Langton 8-17), J Butler.
Lions: Q Horn; E van der Merwe, H van Wyk (M Rass (52), M Louw (c), S Pienaar (A Coetzee 66); J Hendrikse, A Warner (van der Berg 50); JP Smith (M Naude 57), PJ Botha (M van Vuuren 63), A Ntlabakanye (R Smith 63); W Alberts, D Landsberg (PJ van Vuren 51); S Sangweni, R Straeuli, E Tshituka (J Kriel 61).
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand).