Saturday 18 November 2017

Tuohy grabs hat-trick in Connacht annihilation

Connacht 83 Cavalieri Prato 7

JOHN FALLON

Connacht went on a try-scoring rampage to exact sweet revenge against the Italian side who derailed their European dream this year.





Wing Brian Tuohy grabbed a hat-trick as Eric Elwood's men ran in a dozen tries against a hapless Cavalieri Prato side. It is Connacht's biggest ever win in Europe as they finished their disappointing Amlin Challenge Cup campaign on a high.

The victory surpasses the 75-8 win over Spanish side Cetransa El Salvador three years ago -- and Ian Keatley's nine conversions broke the record eight held by his coach Eric Elwood. Connacht led by 43-7 at the break and had a bonus point in the bag by the 26th minute, when Mike McCarthy celebrated his call-up to the Irish squad this week by touching down in front of the watching Ireland coach Declan Kidney.

Connacht actually trailed at one stage when Prato No 8 Noa Soqueta got in for a try after 13 minutes, with the Fijian's score cancelling an earlier effort from Brian Tuohy before Alberto Chiesa edged the visitors in front with the conversion.

Tuohy, who completed his hat-trick in the second half to double his try haul for the season, crossed again before the break as did Niva Ta'auso, Fionn Carr and Keatley. There was no let-up after the break as Connacht put together back-to-back victories for the first time this season. Ray Ofisa made his return from a horror head injury picked up in October and crossed for the final try to complete the rout.

Tuohy completed his hat-trick after 52 minutes after hooker Sean Cronin, with a typically busy display that will have impressed Kidney, crossed just after the restart. Ta'auso grabbed a second and No 8 Mike McComish and replacement hooker Adrian Flavin also got on the scoresheet.

The try haul was one short of the record 13 they scored against Cetransa El Salvador three years ago, but the main question the crowd must have been asking is how on earth did Connacht -- semi-finalists against Toulon in this competition last May -- lose to this Italian side in October.

Scorers -- Connacht: Tuohy 3 tries; Ta'auso 2 tries; McCarthy, Cronin, Carr, Keatley, McComish, Flavin, Ofisa try each. Keatley 9 cons, pen; Nikora con.

Cavalieri Prato: Soqueta try; Chiesa con

Connacht: G Duffy; F Carr, N Ta'auso, K Matthews (M Nikora, 52), B Tuohy (S Monahan, 57); I Keatley, F Murphy (C Willis, 57); B Wilkinson (R Loughney, 57), S Cronin (A Flavin, 47), J Hagan (R Ah You, 47); M McCarthy (B Upton, 47), M Swift; A Browne, S Conneely (R Ofisa, 50), M McComish.

Cavalieri Prato: B Ngawini; W Mafi, C Von Grumbkov, S Rodwell (M Murgier, 40), N Tempestini (R Wakarua, 40); A Chiesa, S Canale (L Villagra, 68); L Poloni (A Goti, 56), L Giovanchelli (A Neri, 61), G Bocca (D Stefani, 40); L Beccaris, F Cazzola; L Petillo, F Cristano (N Belardo, 40), N Soqueta (G Marino, 68).

Referee: L Cardona (France).

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