Watch: Colby Fainga’a's stunning try the highlight of Connacht's bonus-point win over the Dragons
Connacht 33 Dragons 12
Connacht got their PRO14 campaign back on track heading into the November break with an impressive bonus point win at the Sportsground.
It took them some time to get on top on the scoreboard but they never looked back once they hit the front as Bernard Jackman’s Dragons side fell to a 37th consecutive away defeat in the competiton.
Connacht dominated from the outset but could have been behind as Dragons butchered two gilt-edge chances when first Harrison Keddie failed to find his scrum-half Rhodri Williams and then No.8 Taine Basham made a mess of a pass to winger Dafydd Howells, with a clear run to the line in both cases.
Connacht, boosted by those escapes, then took control and made it count on the scoreboard, running in four tries before the interval to lead 26-0.
They never looked back after lock James Cannon scored from a drive after a penalty to the right corner after 23 minutes, having earlier been guilty of crossing after a similar move.
That score lifted Connacht and they never looked back after that and were suitably rewarded for some excellent running from deep that saw them command 71% possession in the opening half.
Darragh Leader, a late replacement for the injured Cian Kelleher, crowned his first game of the season with a try in the right corner after a good break involving Tom Farrell and Tiernan O’Halloran after 27 minutes and even at that stage it was clear all that remained to be decided was the margin of victory.
Connacht’s new out-half David Horwitz, starting his first game since his summer move from the Rebels, created the third try with a break from deep before Farrell put Colby Fainga’a through for his first Connacht try.
Horwitz grew in confidence as the game progressed and will give Andy Friend plenty of options from here.
Connacht, having gone down to a disappointing lose away to an understrength Ospreys side last week, went for the kill with captain Jarrad Butler leading the charge.
It was no surprise that they secured the bonus point just before the break when hooker Tom McCartney finished a 13-phase move, with Horwitz’s third conversion putting them 26-0 in front.
Kieran Marmion thought he had scored a try before coming off unscathed early in the second-half but the score was disallowed as Ultan Dillane was guilty of blocking.
Hallam Amos pulled back a try for Dragons before Eoin Griffin came on for his 100th Connacht appearance and Tom Farrell crowned a fine display with their fifth try ten minutes from time, with Basham getting a consolation try at the death for the Welsh.
Tries: J Cannon, D Leader, C Fainga’a, T McCartney, T Farrell.
Cons: D Horwitz (3), J Carty
Tries: H Amos, T Basham.
Con: J Tovey
Connacht: T O’Halloran; D Leader (E Griffin 66), K Godwin, T Farrell, C De Buitlear; D Horwitz (J Carty 59), K Marmion (C Blade 47); D Buckley (M Burke 66), T McCartney (S Delahunt 51), C Care; U Dillane, J Cannon (J Maksymiw 66); S O’Brien, C Fainga’a, J Butler (J Connolly 72).
Dragons: J Williams (J Dixon 75); D Howells (A Warren 41), H Amos, J Sage, W Talbot-Davies; J Tovey, R Williams (T Knoyle 57); B Harris (A Jarvis 66), R Hibbard (RLawrence 71), L Fairbrother; J Davies (J Thomas 41), L Evans; H Keddie (H Taylor 66), N Cudd, T Basham.
Ref- R O’Sullivan (IRFU).