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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 19 May, 2019
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Second-half surge sees Connacht earn bonus-point victory over 14-man Perpignan

The Irish province ran in five tries at the Stade Aime Giral this evening.

Sean O'Brien scores his second try of the evening in France.
Sean O'Brien scores his second try of the evening in France.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Perpignan 21

Connacht 36

John Fallon reports from the Stade Aime Giral

CONNACHT ADDED PERPIGNAN to their growing list of conquests in France as they carved out a bonus-point win to stay in contention for a knockout place in the Challenge Cup.

This was the 13th time Connacht have defeated a French team in their own backyard and their first bonus point of the campaign could yet be crucial.

And with none of their four Irish internationals available, this was a notable fifth win in a row for an under-strength Connacht side.

Cian Kelleher scores his side's fifth try Cian Kelleher scores Connacht's fifth try of the evening. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Perpignan, desperate a first win of the season after 15 games, started confidently and built up an 8-0 lead after 12 minutes.

Paddy Jackson’s deft flick with the boot was instrumental in full-back Julien Farnoux getting over for the opening try.

Jackson hit the left post with the conversion but he made no mistake a penalty from 30 metres shortly after.

But Connacht hit back and a good drive off a lineout yielded a try for Sean O’Brien which Conor Fitzgerald converted after 20 minutes.

Sean O'Brien scores his second try Sean O'Brien touches down for Connacht at the Stade Aimé Giral. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

And Connacht repeated the dose five minutes later with another drive which was finished by captain Dave Heffernan, with Fitzgerald again converting to lead 14-8.

Perpignan had winger Tima Faingaanuku binned for persistent fouling and while the home side responded well initially it wasn’t long before Connacht extended their lead when O’Brien scored after a break by Robin Copeland.

Fitzgerald missed the conversion from the right but added a penalty before the break to lead by 22-8 at the interval.

Perpignan hit back with tries from hooker Manu Leiataua and winger Faingaanuku, neither of which Jackson could convert from the left, to cut the gap to 22-18 after 47 minutes.

Ian Tempest red cards Adrea Cocagi Referee Ian Tempest shows a red card to Adrea Cocagi. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Perpignan had centre Andrea Cocagi red-carded for a high challenge on Matt Healy but scrum-half Tom Ecochard, who took over the kicking duties after Jackson missed his third, landed a penalty from 35 metres to cut the gap to 22-21 going into the final quarter.

But it was Connacht who pulled away as Healy broke through to score under the posts after 67 minutes and Cian Kelleher did likewise two minutes later, with Jack Carty converting both to lead by 36-21.

Perpignan Scorers:

Tries: J Farnoux, M Leiataua, T Fainga’anuku

Conversions: P Jackson (0/3)

Penalties: P Jackson (1/1), T Ecochard (1/1)

Connacht Scorers:

Tries: S O’Brien (2), D Heffernan, M Healy, C Kelleher

Conversions: C Fitzgerald (2/3), J Carty (2/2)

Penalties: C Fitzgerald (1/2)

PERPIGNAN: Julien Farnoux (Jonathan Bousquet ’68); Eroni Sau, Adrea Cocagi, Afusipa Taumoepeau, Tima Fainga’anuku; Paddy Jackson (Enzo Selponi ’60), Tom Ecochard (c) (Sadek Degmache ’67); Quentin Walcker (Kevin Tougne ’72), Manu Leiataua (Cyril Deligny ’72), Yassin Boutemmani (Nicolas Lemaire ’59); Tristan Labouteley, Yoann Vivalda; Eru Shahn (Alan Brazo ’49), Pierre Reynaud (Alan Brazo ’41-49 HIA) (Johan Van Heerden ’65), Karl Chateau.

CONNACHT: Darragh Leader; Cian Kelleher, Kieran Joyce, David Horwitz (Kyle Godwin ’68), Matt Healy; Conor Fitzgerald (Jack Carty ’60), James Mitchell (Caolin Blade ’60); Peter McCabe (Matthew Burke ’68), David Heffernan (c) (Tom McCartney ’57), Dominic Robertson-McCoy (Conor Carey ’60); James Cannon, Gavin Thornbury (Joe Maksymiw ’59), Sean O’Brien (Eoghan Masterson ’56), James Connolly, Robin Copeland.

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John Fallon

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