Lions’ pride bruised as Connacht dominate at Sportsgrounds
The Emirates Lions took a hit to their pride last night as Connacht picked up a bonus point win at home in the Sportsgrounds. However, the same defensive problems evident in last week’s defeat to Newcastle marred an otherwise impressive performance from the home side.
A hattrick of tries from Caolin Blade helped to secure the home side all the points from the clash. The win sees Connacht rise to tenth place in the United Rugby Championship.
Connacht started proceedings early. Diarmuid Kilgallen exploited a gap in the Lions defence, allowing the winger to plant a try within two minutes of the starting whistle.
After the sides traded penalties, Lions responded with a try of their own after only ten minutes. Prop Asenathi Ntlabakanye steamrolled across the Connacht line.
Lions’ defence struggled to contend with a Connacht side that gave them no respite, and it was only a matter of time before the home side increased their lead.
Shane Delahunt crossed the line just after the 14-minute mark, and the hooker set up scrum-half Caolin Blade a mere ten minutes later.
Lions’ defence left a lot to be desired but Connacht still struggled in spots despite a strong offensive game. Henco van Wyke was able to exploit this to claw back some points for the visitors.
However, it was Connacht who drew the final blood of the half. A skilled long pass from out-half Jack Carty sent in Tiernan O’Halloran to put the home side 29-17 at the break.
Connacht started strong back out of the gates. Caolin Blade blocked down a Lions kick and crossed the line within two minutes of the re-start. Another score as the sides entered the final quarter gave the Monivea man his hattrick, and the Man of the Match award.
Lions captain Marius Louw was able to respond with an admirable solo effort before the final whistle. However, it was never in doubt who would be claiming all points, and Connacht certainly did deserve them.