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Connacht concede five tries in comprehensive defeat to Chiefs

Pat Lam’s men were far from their best at Sandy Park in the Challenge Cup.

Darragh Leader looks to make yards for Connacht at Sandy Park.
Darragh Leader looks to make yards for Connacht at Sandy Park.
Image: Phil Mingo/Pinnacle

Exeter Chiefs 33

Connacht 13

CONNACHT CONCEDED FIVE tries as they went down to a 33-13 defeat to the Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park in Pool 2 of the Challenge Cup.

Having made eight changes to his starting team with next weekend’s Pro12 clash against the Ospreys in mind, Connacht coach Pat Lam will have been disappointed with a performance that offered little until Fionn Carr’s excellent individual try late on.

Having started on the left wing, the 28-year-old beat off a number of would-be tacklers, including former teammate Fetu’u Vainikolo, to score from long-range.

Connacht’s only other points came from the reliable boot of Craig Ronaldson.

The Chiefs led 19-6 at the interval, after a dominant opening half in which they were the clearly better team. Rob Baxter’s men attacked with intelligence and incision to score three tries in that opening 40.

Scrum-half Will Chudley was first over the tryline for Exeter after just nine minutes, producing a sharp fend to cross under the posts, before Henry Slade was next to dot down, scoring in the left-hand corner.

Heading into the break, the Chiefs turned on the pressure again and lock Damian Welch dived over to score. Irish out-half Gareth Steenson converted two of the three efforts to leave Exeter fully in control.

Robbie Henshaw 25/10/2014 Robbie Henshaw only played a half for Connacht. Source: Phil Mingo/Pinnacle

The scoring continued after the break, with Dave Ewers dotting down in the 46th minute, Steenson again converting. Ten minutes later, openside flanker Ben White crossed the whitewash, but the Chiefs eased up after Steenson added the extras.

Connacht finally managed to hold onto possession and shore up their defence in the closing quarter, with Carr’s late try a rare positive. That said, Lam will have been concerned that his side were so easily seen off after last weekend’s convincing win at home to La Rochelle.

Attention switches immediately back to the Pro12, where league leaders Ospreys will welcome Connacht to the Liberty Stadium on Friday night.

Exeter scorers:

Tries: W Chudley, H Slade, D Welch, D Ewers, B White

Conversions: G Steenson [4]

Connacht scorers:

Try: F Carr

Conversion: C Ronaldson

Penalties: C Ronaldson [2]

Connacht Source: EPCR

CONNACHT: Darragh Leader (Conor Finn ’65); Niyi Adeolokun, Robbie Henshaw (Jack Carty ’41), Dave McSharry, Fionn Carr; Craig Ronaldson, Ian Porter (Caolin Blade ’59); Denis Buckley (Ronan Loughney ’50), Jason Harris-Wright (Dave Heffernan ’53), Nathan White (capt) (Rodney Ah You ’50); Michael Swift (Aly Muldowney ’45), Mick Kearney; Andrew Browne, Willie Faloon, George Naoupu (Danny Qualter ’59).

EXETER CHIEFS: Chrysander Botha; Jack Nowell (Fetu’u Vainikolo67), Henry Slade, Sam Hill, Matt Jess; Gareth Steenson ( Ian Whitten ’59), Will Chudley (Dave Lewis ’54); Ben Moon (Brett Sturgess ’57), Jack Yeandle (capt.) (Elvis Taione ’65), Moray Low (Tomas Francis ’50); Don Armand, Damian Welch; Dave Ewers (Sireli Naqelevuki ’68), Ben White (Kai Horstmann ’65), Thomas Waldrom.

Referee: Pascal Guazere [France]

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Murray Kinsella

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