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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 14 December, 2018

Blade cuts deep as Connacht claim brilliant win away to Bayonne

The 20-year-old scrum-half scored twice including a late game-changer.

Bayonne 27

Connacht 29

CONNACHT PULLED OFF another superb win with a hard-fought, confidence-filled win away to Bayonne.

Miah Nikora celebrates at the final whistle with Aly Muldowney Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Despite Par Lam naming a brand new starting line-up for the fixture, the men of the west battled to victory over the Top 14 side.

20-year-old scrum-half Caoilin blade comes away the hero as the second of his two tries arrived in the 77th minute with Miah Nikora’s resulting conversion giving the visitors a slender two-point margin of victory.

The hosts took an early lead through a thrilling breakaway try from Saimoni Vaka on the back on a fifth minute turnover.

Nikora narrowed the gap with a penalty minutes later, but Bayonne reached the 14-point mark as Mathieu Ugalde caused havoc in the Connacht defence with a grubber in the 22 that he was able to sneak through and ground himself.

After 28 minutes, Blade put Connacht right back into the game. The young scrum-half storming in for the score after Darragh leader found the gap.

Dave Heffernan tackled by Baptiste Chouzenoux and Clement Ancely Connacht’s Dave Heffernan tackled by Baptiste Chouzenoux and Clement Ancely of Bayonne. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The sides would trade penalties before the going in at the interval with Connacht trailing 17 – 16. After the break, Bayonne flew out of the traps ominously. The new look XV could have been forgiven for accepting their fate after Pierre Sayerse’s try put the home side eight points to the good after 42 minutes. However, even after Christophe Loustalot stretched that gap to 11, Lam’s side kept chiselling away.

On 57 minutes Nikora reduced the arrears and 10 minutes later he kicked Connacht within a score. And on the back of a maul (a theme carrying over from last week’s encounter) Blade pounced.

Caolin Blade celebrates scoring his side's second try Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The hands would be required at the pump again as Bayonne pushed back in an attempt to avoid a home defeat, and they had an opportunity to steal the lead back. However, Ugalde’s last gasp kick was not as cleverly judged as his early grubber. The flags stayed down and Connacht keep winning.

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