Connacht qualified for their first ever European semi-final on Saturday, coming from behind to beat Narbonne 16-10 for an aggregate win of 43-28.
Connacht qualified for their first ever European semi-final on Saturday, coming from behind to beat Narbonne 16-10 for an aggregate win of 43-28. Tries from full-back Mark McHugh, scorer of two penalties in their 27-18 win in the south of France last Saturday, and Australian lock Andrew Farley saw Connacht claim the biggest win since their inception in 1885. The Irish province went in at the break 10-3 behind thanks to full-back Nicholas Nadau's try three minutes into stoppage time, with former Leicester back Craig McMullen's conversion putting Narbonne just two points behind on aggregate. Connacht got the ideal start into a strong Galway breeze when veteran Eric Elwood, less than a month short of his 35th birthday, kicked a 30-metre penalty in the 14th minute. The visitors were dealt a double blow with two early sin-binnings, with influential Argentinian back-row Gonzalo Longo yellow-carded on 16 minutes, but they drew level through McMullen five minutes before half time with a 40-metre penalty, as Connacht replacement John Fogarty went over the top. McMullen missed the chance to put the French side in front on aggregate four minutes after the break, his penalty into the wind falling short. That proved to be crucial as a Conor McPhilips' tackle six minutes later prevented Frederic Lartigue from crossing the home line, before McHugh lurched over for Connacht's first try on 65 minutes. Elwood's conversion came back off the left upright but the fly-half put them in front six minutes later with a penalty from close to the touchline. Farley's unconverted try three minutes from the end secured the win, with Connacht eagerly awaiting Tuesday's semi-final draw and a possible meeting with Harlequins, who contain former Connacht favourite Gavin Duffy in their side.