Impressive Connacht sustain momentum to stay at top of Pro12

Strong defensive effort secures victory and sends Ospreys home without bonus point

 Connacht’s Matt Healy scores their third try. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Connacht’s Matt Healy scores their third try. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Connacht 30 Ospreys 22

Connacht took a pivotal victory in the Guinness Pro 12 to maintain their momentum at the top of the table.

In a high-octane fixture at the Galway Sportsgroun, Pat Lam’s squad saw off the Ospreys with three tries, closing out the game to prevent the Welsh heading home with a bonus point.

Connacht held a slender 17-15 lead at the break, having produced the perfect start. They went 14-3 up after 10 minutes with tries from Bundee Aki and Aj MacGinty, with centre Craig Ronanaldson adding the conversions, while the Ospreys’ outhalf Sam Davies struck a fourth-minute penalty. Benefitting at the breakdown and a series of penalties, the Welsh side struck with a try from Ben John and then took the lead for the only time in the contest when the immense No 8 Dan Baker powered over from another penalty, with Davies adding the extras.

Ronaldson edged the home side in front with a 27th minute penalty, and when they took control in in the second half, Connacht stretched the lead to 24 - 15 when top try scorer Matt Healy bagged his ninth of the Pro 12, spinning out of a tackle, to power through from close range.

In an end-to-end match the Swansea outfit never relented, striking soon after when Welsh scrumhalf Rhys Webb finished off a superb attack from halfway, and Davies converted to reduce the deficit to just two points.

Connacht’s riposte was a Ronaldson three-pointer when Denis Buckley forced the penalty at the breakdown. Thereafter the Ospreys piled on the pressure. A try-saving tackle from replacement Kieran Marmion stopped Davies in the corner before Connacht put the game beyond reach with Ronaldson’s third penalty in the 66th minute.

Connacht: T O’Halloran, N Adeolokun, B Aki, C Ronaldson, M Healy, A MacGinty, C Blade, D Buckley, T McCartney (cpt), R Ah You, B Marshall, A Muldowney, S O’Brien J Heenan, G Naoupu. Replacements, K Marmion for Blade (32), D Qualter for Marshall (HT), F Bealham for Ah You (57), J Connolly for Naoupu and D Poolman for Adeolokun (62m), R Loughney for Buckley (71), D Heffernan for McCartney (73), R Loughney for Buckley, P Robb for Ronaldson (75m).

Ospreys: D Evans, J Hassler, J Engelbrecht, J Matavesi, B John, S Davies, R Webb, P James, S Parry, D Arhip, J King, R Thornton, J Bearman, O S Otten for Parry (61m), G Thomas for James (64), E Walker for John (67), B Leonard for Webb (72).

Referee: G Clancy (IRFU).

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