Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Ryan Hiscott/INPHO Connacht's Tom Daly scores his side's fourth try.
# Boost
Connacht keep alive slim hopes of reaching Pro14 final with bonus point win
The Irish side overcame a resilient Dragons outfit in Newport.

Dragons 20

Connacht 30

Steffan Thomas reports from Newport

CONNACHT kept alive their slim hopes of making the Pro14 final as they secured a bonus point victory over a resilient Dragons outfit in Newport.

Andy Friend’s side are 10 points behind Conference B leaders Munster and will need to improve if they are to catch their fellow Irish province.

Tries from Matt Healey, Abraham Papali’i, Caolin Blade and Tom Daly along with 10 points from the boot of Jack Carty was enough to get the visitors over the line. But they didn’t have it all their own way with former Wales hooker Richard Hibbard scoring a remarkable hattrick for the hosts.

Davies opened the scoring for the hosts from the kicking tee but Connacht hit back with a well-worked try. The visitors worked their way into the Dragons 22 before a cross kick from Carty was gathered by Healey, who touched down at the corner for his 32nd Connacht try.

Connacht were soon celebrating their second try with a move straight off the training paddock. They secured a lineout in the visiting 22, with Conor Oliver peeling clear and offloading to Shane Delahunt with former NRL star Papali’i powering over from short range.

But it served as a wakeup call for the Dragons whose forwards began to claim a foothold in the game with some aggressive ball carrying. And they forced their way over the line courtesy of their powerful driving lineout with former Wales hooker Hibbard claiming the try.

The pressure kept coming with experienced Wales and British & Irish Lions centre Roberts a handful for the Connacht defence to deal with. Such was the pressure the Dragons exerted on the Connacht line Ireland international Finlay Bealham was sent to the sin bin for offside.

The Dragons made the most of their numerical advantage with Hibbard crashing over for their second try after another well-worked maul. Carty knocked over a penalty at the stroke of half-time to tie the scores at 13-13.

Connacht began the second-half strongly, enjoying some possession in the Dragons half. Another lineout drive from the visitors pushed the Dragons backwards, with Delahunt yet again peeling away, before a gorgeous offload sent Blade over for their third try.

But Connacht let their lead slip again and their inability to defend a driving maul was exposed for the third time, which allowed Hibbard to complete his hattrick. Davies converted to level the scores with 20 minutes to go.

Such was the nature of this seesaw contest Connacht regained the lead, with Daly ghosting his way past two defenders to score the bonus point try. Carty pushed Connacht two scores ahead, with an opportunistic drop goal, to secure their fourth away win in a row.

Dragons: J Williams (J Lewis 74); O Jenkins, J Dixon, J Roberts (A Owen 71), A Hewitt; S Davies, R Williams (L Baldwin 66); B Harris (G Bateman 55), R Hibbard (E Shipp 58), L Fairbrother, B Carter, J Maksymiw (J Davies 55), H Taylor, B Fry, H Keddie (L Evans 60).

Replacements not used: C Coleman

Connacht: J Porch; P Sullivan, T Daly, P Robb (S O’Brien 15), M Healey (A Wootton 69); J Carty, C Blade; D Buckley, S Delahunt (J Murphy 66), F Bealham (J Aungier 53), N Murray (O Dowling 55), G Thornbury, P Boyle, C Oliver, A Papali’I (J Aungier 36-41) (E Masterson 48).

Replacements not used: J Duggan, K Marmion

Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)

Star man: Richard Hibbard (Dragons)


Exclusive Six
Nations Analysis

Get Murray Kinsella’s exclusive analysis of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign this spring

Become a Member


Tries: R Hibbard 23, 33, 53

Conversions: S Davies 53

Penalties: S Davies 4


Tries: M Healey 11, A Papali’I 17, C Blade 46, T Daly 62

Conversions: J Carty 47, 63

Penalties: J Carty 40

Drop goal: J Carty 69

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment

    Leave a commentcancel