CONNACHT PRODUCED A powerful display at the Sportsground this afternoon as they hammered the Newport – Gwent Dragons 30 – 11.
However, the result will come with some disappointment as the western province had scored three tries in the first 45 minutes, yet missed out on a fourth and with it a winning bonus point.
In dry conditions, suitable for the exciting style of Eric Elwood’s young side, the hosts always looked a cut above and were soon 6-0 to the good within eight minutes thanks to two Dan Parks penalties.
Fetu’u Vainikolo’s electric pace and elusive running style again proved invaluable as the Tonga winger took Connacht out of their own half with a 60 metre run after 14 minutes.
Vainikolo’s run ended with pass to Robbie Henshaw who was held up just shy of the line. Awarded a penalty from a five-metre scrum, Connacht trusted in their set-piece and it was rewarded with a full seven points as the welsh side conceded a penalty try.
And before half an hour was out, the Sportsground could enjoy the rare cushion of a 20-0 lead after another incisive move. This time it was Dave McSharry making the clean break in his own half, passing to George Naoupu to dive over the line.
The number eight would soon depart the scene injured and the visitors would narrow the scoreline to 20-3 by half time, but there was nothing to quieten the crowd.
Tom Prydie kicked his second score shortly after half time, but McSharry was soon influencing matters at the business end again. The centre produced another sublime pass to put his partner Danie Poolman on a run into the corner.
Parks would add the conversion, and on the hour mark a drop goal, to leave the score at 30-6 leading into the final 10 minutes. However, with the benches emptied the game grew scrappy.
The bonus point-sealing fourth try proved elusive for the westerners and instead it was the visitors who crossed the whitewash through a last-ditch effort from scrum-half Jonathan Evans.
The four point haul is not enough to push Connacht up the Pro12 table, but it does move six clear of the Dragons, within striking distance of Edinburgh in ninth.