Connacht kept up their proud record of never having lost their opening fixture in the history of the Celtic League as they came from behind to beat Border Reivers.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, September 1
BORDER REIVERS 15 CONNACHT 29, Netherdale (Att: 1,293)
Scorers: Borders: Pens: Calum MacRae 5
Connacht: Tries: Gavin Williams, Paul Warwick; Cons: Mark McHugh 2; Pens: McHugh 4; Drop: Warwick
Full-time: A composed final quarter from Connacht who showed great determination to see out the 29-15 win. They're temporarily top of the league, which makes a nice change from last season when they had a near residency at the bottom. The success is all the more pleasing given the fact that Connacht play their next six league matches back at home at the Sportsground (from September 8 to October 13). If they can get a decent return of points from those games then this may well be their best league season to date.
Best for Connacht on the night were McHugh and Keane at half-back, and Farley and Muldoon in the pack
80+2 mins: CONNACHT TRY! A great way for Connacht to wrap up this encouraging win - Warwick tops of his late show by chasing up on his own kick from 40 metres out and beating the cover defence to dive in to the right of the posts for the clinching score. The trusty McHugh converts and it's game over. Borders 15 Connacht 29
79 mins: CONNACHT DROP GOAL! From the resultant phase of play, Paul Warwick, playing at outside centre, lands a drop goal from 25 metres out. It was far from a thing of beauty, but the former Australian Sevens captain did well off his weaker left foot. Bit of daylight now between the sides. Borders 15 Connacht 22
78 mins: Connacht eek out another penalty kick for McHugh but the blonde-topped number 10 sees his effort bounce back off the post. The westerners still manage to recycle the ball back
73 mins: Connacht wheel a Borders' scrum in impressive style - new captain for the season Fogarty has been brought on, with Flavin making way
68 mins: CONNACHT PENALTY! It's nip and tuck and Connacht grab another three-pointer as McHugh launches over his fourth penalty of the evening. A little bit of breathing space for Bradley's charges, but not much. Borders 15 Connacht 19
63 mins: BORDERS PENALTY! MacRae pegs Connacht back again as indiscipline allows him to boot over from just inside the visitors' ten-metre line. The result is still in the balance as we enter 'the championship minutes'...Borders 15 Connacht 16
57 mins: CONNACHT PENALTY! An almost instant reply from Connacht as referee Hayes pings Borders for holding on in the tackle - flanker John Muldoon, with ball in hand, did particularly well there for the Connacht cause - and McHugh bangs over. Borders 12 Connacht 16
53 mins: BORDERS PENALTY! MacRae reduces the deficit to a single point with his fourth penalty. Borders 12 Connacht 13
50 mins: Connacht might have got in for another try but McPhillips just failed to gather McHugh's crossfield kick
46 mins: CONNACHT TRY! Straight from that lineout, Connacht notch their first try and it is a first ever for the province from the hard working Gavin Williams, the son of former All Black legend Bryan. Former skipper Andrew Farley took in Flavin's throw, the pack rumbled forward, inching up to a metre out from the Borders line, and passes from Keane and McHugh sent Williams scurrying over. Excellent stuff from Connacht! McHugh converts for a four-point lead. Borders 9 Connacht 13
Second Half: Kick-Off: A strong start to the second half from Connacht - they are on the front foot with a grubber kick from Conor McPhillips, who has been quiet up to now, forcing centre Garry Law to take the ball into touch
...Former Ireland international Matt Mostyn...
Half-time: Borders still hold onto their 9-6 lead as Hayes brings the opening half to a close. If Michael Bradley's men can force the issue from the start of the second half and score first, then anything could happen. They are being turned over too often and should be focusing on the basics - Borders, with 12 internationals in their side, deserve their slight advantage
36 mins: BORDERS PENALTY! MacRae makes Connacht pay for some slack defending with his third penalty of the evening. Borders 9 Connacht 6
35 mins: While Flavin's form at the set piece has been encouraging, Connacht's scrum has been struggling with Brett Wilkinson certainly having a batism of fire trying to control Scottish international Bruce Douglas
30 mins: CONNACHT PENALTY! Eagle eyed referee Tim Hayes spots a jersey tug on a Connacht player and awards McHugh his second scoreable penalty chance - the former Ireland international and the league's most accurate kicker last term lands the kick for 6-6. Borders 6 Connacht 6
27 mins: Connacht are increasing their influence on the game - new hooker Adrian Flavin is acquitting himself well with both Andrew Farley and David Gannon profiting from his accurate throwing - the ex-London Irish front rower ends the first half having thrown six successful lineout throw out of seven
22 mins: CONNACHT PENALTY! Centre Gavin Williams is undoubtedly one of Connacht's liveliest players so far - the former Auckland star spots a midfield gap and takes off through it to bring the westerners towards the Scots' 22. The ball is fed back to Paul Warwick who is obstructed when trying to chase onto his own kick ahead. Penalty to Connacht which Mark McHugh swats over. Borders 6 Connacht 3
13 mins: BORDERS PENALTY! Borders stretch their lead to six points as after a concerted spell of pressure, with Townsend drilling kicks into the corners and the hosts' pack in powerful form, the Connacht defence coughs up a penalty which MacRae converts. Borders 6 Connacht 0
5 mins: A break from scrum half Chris Keane sparks Connacht into life, but the move peters out with Yapp knocking on
4 minutes: BORDERS PENALTY! Less than impressive starts from both sides - there's a definite 'back to school' feel - but the Borders are the first to settle and full-back Calum MacRae boots a penalty after Connacht winger Darren Yapp came in at the side of a ruck. Borders 3 Connacht 0
Kick-Off: Borders out-half Gregor Townsend starts the game on a sunny evening down Galashiels' way. No Haka beforehand from Connacht despite their new and quite natty looking away strip of all black!
Team News: South African prop Brett Wilkinson and former London Irish hooker Adrian Flavin will make their competitive debuts for Connacht at Netherdale. Flavin starts as the westerners' new captain John Fogarty continues his recovery from a minor back injury. Mark McHugh will skipper the side tonight from out-half.
Scotland and Lions scrum half Chris Cusiter returns to the fray after six months out with a chest injury. Recent signings Craig Hamilton and Stuart Grimes wil have their first competitive run outs.
Borders: Calum MacRae; Simon Danielli, Ben MacDougall, Garry Law, Nick De Luca; Gregor Townsend, Chris Cusiter (capt); Gavin Kerr, Ross Ford, Bruce Douglas, Craig Hamilton, Stuart Grimes, Kelly Brown, Scott Gray, Ross Beattie.
Replacements: Steve Scott, Ed Kalman, Opeta Palepoi, John Dalziel, Brendan McKerchar, Andy Miller, Steve Jones.
Connacht: Matt Mostyn; Conor McPhillips, Paul Warwick, Gavin Williams, Darren Yapp; Mark McHugh (capt), Chris Keane; Brett Wilkinson, Adrian Flavin, Stephen Knoop, David Gannon, Andrew Farley, John Muldoon, Matt Lacey, Colm Rigney.
Replacements: John Fogarty, Michael Diffley, Michael Swift, Brendan O'Connor, Tom Tierney, Keith Matthews, Daniel Riordan.
Referee: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Touch Judges: Iain Ramage, Bob Nevins (both Scotland)