Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
James Crombie/INPHO Connacht's Aly Muldowney on the charge.
# Big Freeze
Connacht brave sub-zero temperatures to secure bonus-point win in Siberia
Job done for Pat Lam’s men in Krasnoyarsk.

Enisei-STM 14
Connacht 31

John Fallon reports from Krasnoyarsk

RORY PARATA’S TRY four minutes from time ensured Connacht left Krasnoyarsk with all five points from a daunting Challenge Cup clash with Enisei-STM this morning.

Played in temperatures well below -20ºC, Connacht struggled to come to terms with their determined hosts and the almost impossible playing conditions before the interval, but second-half tries from Niyi Adeolokun, John Muldoon, Darragh Leader and Parata ensured a happy trip home for Pat Lam’s side.

In the end it was Connacht’s superior set-piece, especially their scrum, that found a way past a very physically strong and defensively sound Enisei side, while Bundee Aki and AJ MacGinty put in particularly impressive showings.

Krasnoyarsk is hardly the place that USA international and Dublin-born MacGinty would have expected to make his first start for Connacht, but he controlled matters beautifully in horrendous conditions.

Connacht’s sole return from a tetchy first-half was two penalties from the former Blackrock College student, but in the conditions a 6-0 lead was priceless.

But shortly after the restart, Connacht’s class began to show as their dominant scrum started to consistently force Enisei onto the back foot.

Darragh Leader scores his sides third try James Crombie / INPHO Darragh Leader scores Connacht's third try. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

MacGinty landed his third penalty in the 44th minute, and three minutes later Adeolokun dived over for their first try following a powerful scrum on an Enisei put-in.

Five minutes later skipper Muldoon got in on the act with his side’s second try which stretched their advantage out to 19-0.

The third try arrived soon after, on the back of a penalty earned by the scrum, and following a break from replacement Sean O’Brien, the impressive Aki sent Leader over on the left.

Replacement prop Andrei Polivalov crossed for two late tries, which was the least Enisei deserved, but Parata’s score four minutes from time meant Connacht took the spoils from a well executed effort.

Shane Delahunt, Ian Porter, John Muldoon, Denis Buckley and Aly Muldowney look on in the closing stages James Crombie / INPHO Connacht's subs trying to stay warm on the bench. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Enisei-STM scorersTries: A Polivalov (2); Conversions: I Kushnarev (2)

Connacht scorersTries: N Adeolokun, J Muldoon, D Leader, R Parata; Conversion: D Leader; Penalties: AJ MacGinty (3)

Enisei-STM: Iurii Kushnarev; Mikhail Babaev, David Kacharava, Dmitrii Gerasimov, Denis Simplikevich; Ramil Gaisin, Jurijs Baranovs (Alexey Shcherban ’42-59); Aleksandr Bezverkhov (Andrei Polivalov ’56), Stanislav Selskii (Nazir Gasanov ’68), Innokentiy Zykov; Uldis Saulite, Viacheslav Krasylnyk (Evgeny Elgin ’77); Vitalii Orlov, Andrey Temnov (Anton Rudoi ’74), Dmitrii Krotov.

Connacht: Darragh Leader; Rory Parata, Bundee Aki (Craig Ronaldson ’55), Peter Robb, Niyi Adeolokun; AJ MacGinty, Ian Porter (Caolin Blade ’62); Denis Buckley (Ronan Loughney ’58), Shane Delahunt (Dave Heffernan ’19-27, ’65), Finlay Bealham (Conan O’Donnell ’68); Ultan Dillane, Aly Muldowney (Danny Qualter ’68); John Muldoon (Sean O’Brien ’58), James Connolly, George Naoupu.

Referee: Thomas Charabas (FFR)

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