Young full-back John O’Brien scored a try on his Connacht debut as the westerners earned a fine 27-11 victory over Portugal at the Sportsground on Sunday night.
INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE MATCH: Sunday, November 9
CONNACHT 27 PORTUGAL 11, The Sportsground
Scorers: Connacht: Tries: John O’Brien, Troy Nathan, Brett Wilkinson, Mel Deane; Cons: Andy Dunne 2; Pen: Andy Dunne
Portugal: Try: Goncalo Foro; Pens: Pedro Cabral 2
An experimental Connacht side enjoyed a four tries-to-one victory over Portugal in front of a decent-sized Sportsground crowd on Sunday.
The Portugal Presidents XV defended well in the opening half but Buccaneers clubman John O’Brien, on his debut for the province, and Troy Nathan crossed for tries to help establish a 17-3 interval lead for Connacht.
Earlier, Andy Dunne and Portugal out-half Pedro Cabral exchanged penalties.
Portugal winger Goncalo Foro got in for a very good try after 49 minutes.
However Connacht completed a good work-out, which marked the return from long-term injury of half-backs Tim Donnelly and Conor O’Loughlin, with tries from replacements Brett Wilkinson and Mel Deane.
As well as O’Brien making his debut, former Ireland Under-20 lock David Nolan also made his first start for Connacht on a satisfying night for Michael Bradley, his coaching staff and the players.
CONNACHT: John O’Brien; Troy Nathan, John Hearty, Aidan Wynne, Danny Riordan; Andy Dunne, Kieran Campbell; John Lyne, Adrian Flavin (capt), Robbie Morris, David Nolan, David Gannon, Michael McCarthy, Ray Ofisa, Colm Rigney.
Replacements used: Ronan Loughney for Morris (32 mins), Mel Deane for Wynne (half-time), Tim Donnelly for Riordan (54), Conor O’Loughlin for Campbell, Joey Merrigan for Flavin, Brett Wilkinson for Lyne (all 57), Riordan for Nathan (68), Conor Muldoon for Nolan (78).
PORTUGAL: V Gaspar; A Esteves, D Gama, M Leal, G Foro; P Cabral, J Pinto; J Junior, J Correia, J Severino, G Da Silva, V Jorge, J Bardi, S Palha, E Acosta.
Replacements used: A Sosa for Palha (15 mins), L Balague for Sosa (57), Y Ricardo for Leal (65), N Taful for Correia (68), L Kadosh for Pinto (75).
Referee: Simon McDowell (IRFU)