Conor Fitzgerald kicking a conversion. Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
feeling 22

Fitzgerald's star continues to rise as Connacht thrash Dragons and return home with bonus point

Gavin Thornbury, Matt Healy, Finlay Bealham, Cillian Gallagher and Kieran Marmion all ran in tries in Newport.

Dragons 14

Connacht 38

Steffan Thomas reports from Rodney Parade

CONNACHT THRASHED THE Dragons 38-14 in Newport to claim their second Pro14 victory of the season.

Tries from Gavin Thornbury, Matt Healy, Finlay Bealham, Cillian Gallagher and Kieran Marmion sealed the bonus point win while Conor Fitzgerald kicked 11 points. All the Dragons could muster were two tries from Tyler Morgan and Taine Basham with Sam Davies kicking four points.

Wales international centre Morgan grabbed the opening try as he crossed from short range after a well-timed pass from Davies. The out-half extended the home side’s lead with a simple conversion from right out in front of the posts.

Dragons captain Rhodri Williams gave Connacht an opportunity to build some pressure when he kicked out on the full giving the visitors a lineout on the hosts’ 22. Connacht attempted to maul their way over the try line with Thornbury eventually powering his way over from short range for a try, which 22-year-old Fitzgerald converted.

rhodri-williams-and-taine-basham-with-gavin-thornbury Dragons' Rhodri Williams and Taine Basham with Gavin Thornbury of Connacht. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

And Connacht took the lead soon after with Fitzgerald knocking over a penalty from 30 metres out. Healy extended Connacht’s lead with a brilliant individual try which saw the left-wing chip ahead from the halfway line before regathering the ball to score. Fitzgerald improved Connacht’s lead with a difficult conversion.

Debutant John Porch was then sent to the sin bin on the stroke of half-time for a clumsy challenge in the air on his opposite number Ashton Hewitt but Connacht held a 17-7 lead at the interval.

The visitors grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck in the early stages of the second half as their pack took complete control. And Irish international Bealham gave them an unassailable lead when he touched down from short range after a powerful driving lineout. Fitzgerald added the extras.

Gallagher claimed the bonus-point try for the hosts as he bundled his way through from short range with Fitzgerald converting. Marmion rubbed further salt into the Dragons’ wounds as he ran in unopposed from 40 metres out.

conor-fitzgerald Fitzgerald was Man of the Match. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

Basham claimed a late try for the hosts but it was too little too late.

Dragons scorers:
Tries – T Morgan 19, T Basham 80
Conversions – S Davies 20, 80

Connacht scorers:
Tries – G Thornbury 24, M Healey 31, F Bealham 50, C Gallagher 72
Conversions –C Fitzgerald 25, 32, 50, 73 Pens – C Fitzgerald 30

Dragons: J Williams, O Jenkins, T Morgan (J Dixon 58), A Warren, A Hewitt; S Davies, R Williams (T Knoyle 58); B Harris (J Cosgrove 3), R Hibbard (E Shipp 58), L Brown (L Fairbrother 58), J Davies (M Williams 72), M Screech, H Taylor (H Keddie 49), T Basham, L Evans (H Taylor 58).

Replacements not used: B Botica

Connacht: T O’Halloran (S Fitzgerald 7); J Porch, K Godwin, P Robb, M Healy (K Marmion 38); C Fitzgerald, C Blade; P McAllister, T McCartney (S Delahunt 55), F Bealham (D Buckley 57), G Thornbury (U Dillane 51), Q Roux (C Gallagher 68), E Masterson, J Butler, P Boyle.

Replacements not used: D Robertson-McCoy

Referee: Marius Mitrea

Attendance: 3,257

Star man: Conor Fitzgerald (Connacht)

Andy Dunne and Murray Kinsella join Gavan Casey to preview Ireland-Samoa, and discuss the utter farce of the World Cup falling foul of Typhoon Hagibis.

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