Diarmuid Kilgallon, making his first European start alongside similar debutants Cathal Forde, Jack Aungier, and Shamus Hurley-Langton, delivered the third in the 76th minute. [ Leinster make a statement with dominant Racing win in Le Havre]“It’s a healthy spot to be in, ” Connacht’s director of rugby Andy Friend explained after the game.
Although Hawkshaw missed a kick from just inside halfway, he converted another on 59 minutes to keep his side in control. And they finished with a flourish. Having gained a foothold close to the line, replacement Conor Fitzgerald delivered the perfect cross field kick for left wing Kilgallon, who did well to field, fend off Tait and touchdown in the left corner. “A good step, ” says Friend. “I thought across the course of the game, the set piece again made a good statement for itself against a good Premiership side. There is genuine depth among the squad now. ”Scoring sequence – 4 mins: Boyle try, Hawkshaw con 7-0; 19 mins: Schoeman penalty 7-3; 24 mins: Earle try 7-8; 38 mins: A Byrne try, Hawkshaw con 14-8.
Connacht kick-start Challenge Cup campaign with home win over Newcastle FalconsConnacht 22 Newcastle Falcons 8Connacht’s young stars took centre stage in their opening European fixture of the season, delivering a win against Newcastle Falcons to set them up for Friday’s trip to France. Scoring three tries to one, Connacht “didn’t take a backward step”, but one negative could be the lack of a bonus point, which could come into play later in the Challenge Cup competition. However, it was a night when Connacht decided to show their strength in depth, and Adam Byrne, with only one previous start against the Ospreys, lit up the Sportsground – along with its new flashing light show – to continue the trend he set in Leinster’s European matches. His try helped put the home side 14-8 ahead at the break after Paul Boyle’s early effort.
“Last year we didn’t rotate as much, for a couple of different reasons. We got strong feedback about trying to trust them and give them opportunities – we have done that this year, which is a compliment to Pete Wilkins (head coach). “Adam hasn’t had a lot of opportunities’. He’s had a few injuries – was plagued with a foot issue – so he played Ospreys and trained through the preseason and then got his chance tonight. ”Byrne is just one example of “good young fellas” who he hopes to “drop in” during the European campaign – including Shane Jennings, Shane Bolton, and Darragh Murray. “At some stage, you have to give them the belief that you do believe in them, ” he says. “We’ve got some really good talent sitting in behind.
Dom Robertson McCoy is now back and fit, We haven’t seen him at all, so we have some experienced and others who we will need to drop in – Mattie Burke, Jordan Duggan – players who stood up previously, so whether we use them in Europe or the URC, we have luxury of choice. ”It was not the most exciting opening European game for a Sportsground crowd on a frosty night, but it started well for the home side when a super break from man of the match, scrumhalf Caolan Blade, put No 8 Paul Boyle on a direct route to score, with outhalf David Hawkshaw adding the extras after four minutes.
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The visitors created opportunities, and for the most part Connacht were well organised in defence, with Josh Murphy, who later failed an HIA, and Jarrad Butler doing well to repel the visitors. However, after conceding a scrum penalty Newcastle outhalf Tian Schoeman put their first points on the board, and six minutes later they added an unconverted try through left wing Nathan Earle, fed by right wing Adam Radwan, who had fielded a perfect free kick. It was just before half-time when Adam Byrne displayed his talent, dancing his way around three players to touchdown with Hawkeshaw adding the extras, putting Connacht 14-8 ahead.
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