Laszlo Geczo/INPHO Fitzgerald keeps his head down to drive a kick at goal during the win over Dragons.
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Friend thrilled to see Fitzgerald's 'immense skill-set come to the fore'
The 22-year-old out-half is making the most of Jack Carty’s absence.

ANDY FRIEND HAILED the performance of Conor Fitzgerald after the Connacht out-half’s man of the match performance in their 38-14 victory over the Dragons.

Fitzgerald kicked 13 points and put the Irish province in the right areas of the park as the out-muscled Dean Ryan’s side. And Friend believes the 22-year-old star has a massive future in the game.

“Conor is a lovely footballer,” said Friend.

“You could see it last year. I felt the Scarlets game wasn’t a true reflection of what that man can do.

“As soon as we settled him down and gave him a game plan it allowed his immense skill-set to come to the fore.

“He’s a very clever player and he’s got a very promising future in the game.”

Tries from Gavin Thornbury, Matt Healy, Finlay Bealham, Cillian Gallagher and Kieran Marmion was enough to see secure Connacht’s second victory of this Guinness PRO14 season.

All the Dragons could muster were two tries from Tyler Morgan and Taine Basham with Sam Davies kicking four points.

Despite the Dragons starting strongly with Morgan crashing over from short range the Connacht pack completely dominated the game.

Thornbury started the scoring spree as he powered over the line after a well-worked driving lineout before Healey scored a stunning individual try as he chipped over the top of the Dragons defence before regathering to score.

Bealham showed his strength to barge over the line before Gallagher and Marmion scored two tries from distance. After slipping to defeat against the Scarlets in round one Friend is happy with how his side have responded.

“This was a carbon copy of what happened against the Scarlets but against the Dragons we played a smarter brand of football,” he said.

“This time it was us going into half-time with the lead and when you’ve got that lead you can play smart rugby and kick the ball in behind them. I thought it was a clever performance by our half-backs and our set piece continued to dominate.

“We didn’t have the football in the first quarter. We have a saying there’s only a problem until someone stops working.

“We stumbled in round one against the Scarlets so to come to Newport and leave with five points is very pleasing.”

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