Connacht’s horror start continues with second big home defeat
Ospreys punish Pat Lam’s side late on to seal bonus point and top spot in table
Jeff Hassier of Ospreys is left trailing by Connacht’s Matt Healy during the Guinness Pro 12 game at the Sportsground in Galway. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Connacht 11 Ospreys 32
Connacht delivered an improved performance but not enough to stop sliding to a second defeat at the Sportsground as the faltering start to their campaign continues.
The Ospreys delivered the killer blow late in the game, wrapping up the bonus point to take over top spot in the Guinness Pro 12 table, as Connacht were left reeling after conceding 73 points in their opening two games.
While the scoreline may not reflect Connacht’s domination, they lacked the same finishing prowess that produced their Pro 12 winning run last season.
Ospreys, however, made their possession count. They had opened with a fourth-minute penalty when Connacht were pinged at the breakdown and outhalf Sam Davies was on target with his kick.
Although Connacht outhalf Jack Carty missed an early kick to equalise, the home side was rewarded when Bundee Aki, Eoin Griffin and Matt Healy combined up the left wing, and from quick recycled ball, the Welsh outfit strayed offside with Carty potting the resulting penalty to level matters.
Although it gave the home side some impetus, the Ospreys continued to break Connacht’s first-up tackles with the halfbacks controlling the play. Captain and scrumhalf Rhys Webb grabbed the opening try after 28 minutes to take a 10-3 lead into the break, but Connacht had reduced that gap within five minutes of the restart. An excellent kick from Carty found touch five metres out before he was brought down with a high tackle and added the ensuing penalty .
The home side then dominated the next 20 minutes, but failed to make the breakthrough from a succession of penalties kicked to touch. Eventually, however, they found form through their trademark attacking with ball in hand, and exploiting an overlap after several phases, Aki supplied flanker Eoin McKeon who crossed for what was their only try of the game. Although Carty missed the conversion, Connacht took an 11-10 lead.
However, it did not last long. Within minutes they conceded a rare penalty at scrum time, and Davies added the three points to edge in front. A second for a questionable offside stymied another Connacht attacking move, handing the impetus back to the visitors.
They made it count when influential No 8 Tyler Ardran forced his way over to extend the lead to 18-11 with Davies missed missing the kick.
It then all fell apart for the home side. First they paid the price for a poor pass with replacement Lloyd Ashley intercepting in his own half, and despite Healy’s excellent chase, Webb was on hand to grab his second try.
Four minutes later they wrapped up the bonus point with Jeff Hassler touching down. Davies added to extras to extend their lead and Connacht’s misery.
CONNACHT: Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Ronan Loughney, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham; Ultan Dillane, Daniel Qualter; Eoin McKeon, James Connolly, John Muldoon (capt).
Replacements: JP Cooney for Bealham (60 mins), S O’Leary for Carty (66 mins), C Blade for Marmion, L Stevenson for Qualter (both 68 mins).
OSPREYS: Dan Evans; Jeff Hassler, Ben John, Josh Matavesi, Eli Walker; Sam Davies, Rhys Webb (capt); Nicky Smith, Sam Parry, Dmitri Arhip; Bradley Davies, Rory Thornton; Olly Cracknell, Justin Tipuric, Tyler Ardron.
Replacements: Ashley for Thornton (44 mins), P James for Smith, M Fia for Arhip (both 56 mins), J King for Cracknell (60 mins), S Baldwin for Parry (66 mins), T Habberfield for Walker (74 mins).
Sin Bin: Ardron (51 mins).
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales).