Connacht blow Ospreys away on a rainy night in Galway

Debutant centre Shayne Bolton goes over for a try to follow Mack Hansen’s opener

Connacht’s Shayne Bolton scores his side’s second try during the United Rugby Championship clash with Ospreys. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Connacht’s Shayne Bolton scores his side’s second try during the United Rugby Championship clash with Ospreys. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Connacht 46 Ospreys 18

Connacht returned to the Sportsground after a five-week break and produced a comprehensive performance, running in seven tries against Ospreys.

Continuing their relentless pace that stunned Ulster, they followed up with a second successive bonus-point victory, and the most points ever against the Welsh visitors.

After round five of the United Rugby Championship, the Ospreys, fifth in the table, had suffered just one loss, and enjoyed a six-point advantage over Connacht, who, with just two wins, were in a respectable ninth position of the 16 teams. But after this latest round, Ospreys’ lead has now been slashed to a single point.

Highly skilled, despite the poor weather, Connacht showed their ability to keep the ball alive with tremendous pace, and defended in equal measure.

They could not have hoped for a better start, scoring a try within the opening three minutes, which started and finished with Mack Hansen following an initial break up the sideline. Scrumhalf Kieran Marmion made two vital snipes, and with every carry Connacht gained momentum before Jack Carty delivered a perfect pass for Hansen who finished off. It set the tone for this round six fixture despite the often squally conditions.

Jack Carty kicks a conversion. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
Jack Carty kicks a conversion. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Ospreys, however, were quick to reply, using their forwards to establish territory, before winning a breakdown penalty which veteran Stephen Myler converted after nine minutes, but it was shortly cancelled by Carty who knocked over a three-pointer from a scrum penalty. Within minutes Shayne Bolton marked his debut for Andy Friend’s side when he bagged try number two. Once again it was a super piece of continuity, Carty combining with a Boyle before fullback Oran McNulty, in his first start, broke through. Hooker Dave Heffernan, in his 150th game, kept the momentum going before Hansen supplied Bolton, who was unstoppable.

The Welsh visitors, however, added to their score, capitalising on a dropped pass for Luke Morgan to touch down, but as the weather turned stormy, Connacht regained the initiative. Paul Boyle was instrumental in breaking from the scrum, Marmion sniped before Conor Oliver took over, and Carty delivered to Arnold who supplied Bolton. The South African broke through from the 10 metre line before fullback McNulty marked his first start with a third try. Once again the wind saw Carty’s conversion held up with the home side leading 18-8.

Connacht survived the concession of two penalties with Carty and Oliver manning the try line, but on the next occasion Myler opted to add three points, narrowing the gap to 18-11 at half-time. And within minutes of the restart, they had bagged the bonus point, centre Sam Arnold stepping inside the cover to touch down after Boyle had crashed through. Carty added his first conversion, delivering the final pass.

Toby Booth’s side, however, cut the deficit with a try from centre Joe Hawkins, powering through after good work from the pack. Meyler converted to ensure the Welsh side were still in the game.

It was short-lived. Connacht took territorial control, creating clear chances before extending their lead to 33-18 when awarded a penalty try after Luke Morgan’s seatbelt tackle on Peter Robb at the line. Replacement scrumhalf Caolan Blade added his name to the scoresheet, powering his way through an attempted tackle for try number six, and Carty adding the extras.

Sam Cross is tackled by Jarrad Butler and Dave Heffernan. Photo: Ben Brady/Inpho
Sam Cross is tackled by Jarrad Butler and Dave Heffernan. Photo: Ben Brady/Inpho

When replacement Conor Fitzgerald added his name to the scoresheet just before the end with a seventh try, it sealed a most comprehensive display.

Scoring sequence: 3m Hansen try 5-0; 9m Myler pen 5-3; 11m Carty pen 8-3; 13m Bolton try 13-3; 17m Morgan try13-8; 22m McNulty try 18-8; 35m Myler pen 18-11; HT 18-11; 44m Arnold try, Carty con 25-11; 48m Hawkins try 25-18; 60m Connacht penalty try 32-18; 71m Blade try, Carty con 39-18; 78m Fitzgerald try, Carty con 46-18.

Connacht: O McNulty; A Wootton, S Bolton, S Arnold, M Hansen; J Carty, K Marmion; M Burke, D Heffernan, F Bealham; N Murray, U Dillane; J Butler, C Oliver, P Boyle.

Replacements: O Dowling for Murray (35m), S Delahunt for Heffernan and J Aungier for Bealham (54); P Robb for Bolton (58m); C Blade for Marmion (60m), E Masterson for Boyle and Conor Fitzgrald for Arnold (both 68m).

Ospreys: D Evans; M Nagy, O Watkin, J Hawkins, L Morgan; S Myler, R Webb; N Smith, E Taoine, T Botha; B Davies, R Davies; S Cross, J Morgan, E Roots.

Replacements: G Thomas for Smith (32m), S Parry for Taoine and W Griffiths for Cross (both 49m), R Davis for Botha (59m), C Evans for Nagy (62m), M Morris for Roots and R Morgan-Williams for Webb (both 64).

Referee: B Blain (Scotland).

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