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Connacht blow chance to claim quarter-final as late penalty downs Lam's men in France

The western province have work to do if they are to progress in the Challenge Cup.

There was late drama in France this evening.
There was late drama in France this evening.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Brive 21
Connacht 18

CONNACHT BLEW A glorious chance to claim a quarter-final spot in the Challenge Cup in a dramatic finish in France.

Skipper John Muldoon looked to have guided Connacht to a 12th win on French soil when he tapped and went with a penalty two minutes from the end.

But then Jack Carty missed the conversion and on an error-ridden night, Connacht knocked-on from the restart and were penalised in the resultant scrum.

That presented Thomas Laranjeira with a chance to win it and the centre landed his seventh kick of the night from 40 metres to snatch a win.

Now Connacht will have to hope Brive slip-up in Newcastle next weekend and that they beat Enisei-STM at the Sportsground if they are to qualify.

Connacht trailed 9-5 at the interval after Brive recovered from a nightmare start to enjoy the bulk of the possession in the opening half.

Connacht had a dream start when good work by Danie Poolman and Muldoon created the opening for Rory Parata to race through and score after just 40 seconds.

But that was to be their only score of the half. AJ MacGinty was unable to add the touchline conversion but he should have hit the target with a penalty after 13 minutes.

By then the errors were increasing for Connacht and Brive, enjoying an edge up front, started to exploit them.

Rory Parata scores the opening try Rory Parata scores the opening try of the game. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Thomas Laranjeira got them off the mark with a penalty after six minutes and two more efforts from the centre saw Brive go 9-5 in front.

They went for the jugular with a couple of penalties to the right corner but the Connacht defence, with Muldoon leading the way, held firm.

MacGinty landed a penalty after the restart before Laranjeira responded for Brive but then Muldoon managed to stretch and touch down after a very good build-up by Connacht by doing the simple things well and popping passes in the tackle.

MacGinty hit a post with the conversion so it remained 13-12 to Connacht.

Poolman just did enough to nudge Benito Masilevu’s left foot into touch just before the winger touched down in the left corner. But the reprieve was brief Laranjeira kicked two more penalties to lead by five with 17 minutes left.

The real drama came after that but Connacht were just not able to close it out.

Brive scorers

Penalties: Thomas Laranjeira (7)

Connacht scorers

Tries: Rory Parata, John Muldoon (2)
Penalties: AJ MacGinty

Brive: Romain Sola; Guillaume Namy, Thomas Laranjeira, Christopher Tuatara (Arnaud Mignardi ’55), Benito Masilevu; Matthieu Ugalde (Nicolas Bézy ’74), Jean-Baptiste Pejoine (Teddy Iribaren ’57); Goderzi Shvelidze (Damien Lavergne ’52), Thomas Acquier (Guillaume Ribes ’52), Kevin Buys (Yusuf Tuncer ’40); Victor Lebas, Arnaud Mela (Wilhelm Steenkamp ’71); William Whetton (Poutasi Luafutu ’52), Fabien Sanconnie (Poutasi Luafutu ’27-38), Sisa Koyamaibole.

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; Danie Poolman, Rory Parata (Peter Robb ’75), Bundee Aki, Matt Healy; AJ MacGinty (Jack Carty ’55), Ian Porter (Caolin Blade ’60); Ronan Loughney (Denis Buckley ’48), Jason Harris-Wright (Tom McCartney ’29), Rodney Ah You (Finlay Bealham ’70); Ultan Dillane, Aly Muldowney; Sean O’Brien (Eoghan Masterson ’59), James Connolly (George Naoupu ’70), John Muldoon.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (RFU).

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About the author:

John Fallon

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