Leader gives Connacht Eagles the edge over Rotherham Titans

Late penalty proves the difference for Nigel Carolan’s side


Connacht Eagles 27 Rotherham Titans 25: Fullback Darragh Leader was the hero when he landed a late penalty to snatch victory for Connacht Eagles 27-25 over Rotherham Titans in the British and Irish Cup at the Sportsground on Saturday.

Connacht, hammered 76-14 in Llanelli the previous week, trailed 12-3 at half-time as the away side grabbed two tries through flanker Jack Preece and scrumhalf Charlie Mulchrone.

Connacht, who had Fionn Carr binned, got their only score of the first-half with a penalty from captain Jack Carty.

Connacht made the perfect start to the second half as centre Rory Parata crossed for a well-worked try. Carty converted from the touchline to make it 12-10.

But Rotherham grabbed their third try as hooker Tom Cruse touched down after 50 minutes. Replacement Llloyd Hayes converted to extend the away side’s advantage.

Leader touched down in the corner after some good build-up play by Connacht with Carty again converting before replacement Eoghan Masterson scored the home side’s third try off the back of a scrum.

Carty converted to put Connacht Eagles 24-22 up with seven minutes to go. Rotherham thought they had won it as Hayes scored a 77th minute penalty but Leader had the last say as his massive penalty split the posts.

Connacht Eagles coach Nigel Carolan said it was the perfect way to respond to the big loss in Llanelli.

“We have areas we can improve on but I felt the effort produced deserved to secure the win,” he said.

CONNACHT EAGLES: D Leader; F Carr, R Parata, B Murphy, S Macauley; J Carty, F Murphy; D Buckley, D Heffernan, F Bealham; D Nolan, M Kearney; C Kindregran, J Connolly, D Qualter. Replacements: E Masterson for Kindregran (48 mins), J Rael for Qualter (60 mins), S Meunargia for Bealham (60 mins), U Dillane for Connolly (60 mins). Scorers – Tries: R Parata, D Leader, E Masterson; Cons: J Carty; Pens: J Carty, D Leader.
ROTHERHAM TITANS: M Keating, J Broadway, J Gill, J Roberts, C Wilson; D Murphy, C Mulchrone; M Dias, T Cruse, C Quigley, B Maddison (c), B Thomas, A Rieder, J Preece, E Williamson. Replacements: B Sowery for Dias (46 mins), L Hayes for Roberts (46 mins), D Sanderson for Thomas (54 mins), D White for Mulchrone (54 mins), M Tampin for Quigley (60 mins), A Birch for Williamson (62 mins), S Scanlon for Broadley (70 mins), Dias for Sowery (72 mins). Scorers – Tries: J Preece, C Mulchrone, T Cruse; Cons: D Murphy, L Hayes; Pens: L Hayes.
Referee: A Jackson (RFU).