Connacht are three points adrift at the foot of the Celtic League table after the Border Reivers stung them with a 17-15 defeat.
Darren Yapp is tackled by Borders’ Mark Blair
Connacht are three points adrift at foot of the Celtic League table after the Border Reivers stung them with a 17-15 defeat.
CELTIC LEAGUE: Saturday, September 24
Connacht 15 Border Reivers 17, The Sportsground (Att: 650)
Scorers: Connacht: Matt Lacey, Colm Rigney; Con: David Slemen; PenL Paul Warwick
Reivers: Tries: Charlie Hore, Simon Danielli; Cons: Hore 2; Pen: Hore
Steve Bates’ Reivers produced a ten-point turnaround in the second half to steal their first ever away victory in league action. On reflection, they deserved it too as Semo Sititi’s early sending-off meant they played for over 70 minutes at the Sportsground with 14 men.
The Scottish side’s second match in six days turned in their favour on 69 minutes when a silly sin-binning for Connacht flanker Michael Swift allowed Charlie Hore kick the match-winning penalty and condemn the westerners to their third defeat on the trot.
Backed by a sizeable Galway gale, Paul Warwick had booted Connacht into an eight-minute lead from a close range penalty.
Two minutes later, Sititi was sent to an early shower as at a set scrum, he swung his arm wildly at the face of Connacht’s Tom Tierney leaving the former Leicester Tigers scrum-half strewn on the pitch and Welsh referee Nigel Owens with little option but to reach for his red card.
Despite this, the visitors, 16-6 winners over the Ospreys last week, proved sticky opponents throughout. An injury to Warwick did little for Connacht’s cause as did Hore’s 21st-minute try. The Kiwi fly-half blazed through under the posts and added the extras for 8-7.
Connacht struck back on 27 minutes when fit-again flanker Matt Lacey muscled over to score from a lineout maul.
Warwick’s replacement David Slemen missed the conversion but his line-kicking proved vital in the Irishmen’s bid for a second try. It came just as Borders lock Mark Blair was sin-binned for a ruck infringement in first half injury-time.
Former Leeds number eight Colm Rigney bided his time at the base of a trundling scrum – Connacht’s fifth set-piece on the trot – before picking up and driving over for Slemen to convert for a 15-7 lead.
The second half was a less than exciting affair and only sprung into life when a Stuart Moffat incision on 55 minutes sent Simon Danielli haring over for a try in the right corner.
Hore, who missed a penalty shot only minutes earlier, brilliantly drilled the conversion over and after Swift went over the top of a ruck, the Borders number 10 held his nerve to kick the Scots home.
CONNACHT: Matt Mostyn; Conor McPhillips, Darren Yapp, James Downey (Ted Robinson 62), Keith Matthews; Paul Warwick (David Slemen 23), Tom Tierney; Dan McFarland (Ray Hogan 60), John Fogarty (Chris Venter 78), Stephen Knoop (McFarland 80), Christian Short, Andrew Farley (Capt), Michael Swift (John Muldoon 79), Matt Lacey, Colm Rigney.
BORDERS: Calum MacRae; Nikki Walker, Ben MacDougall, Garry Law (Stuart Moffatt half-time), Simon Danielli; Charlie Hore, Chris Cusiter; Paul Thomson (Capt), Steve Scott (Ross Ford ht), Tom McGee (Geoff Cross 70), Opeta Palepoi, Mark Blair (Colin Stewart ht), John Dalziel, Andy Miller (Wayne McEntee 61), Semo Sititi.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales); Sin-Bin: Mark Blair (Borders) (40+4 mins), Michael Swift (Connacht) (69); Red Card: Semo Sititi (Borders) (10)