Connacht scored another famous victory on French soil when they came from ten points down to claim a 22-19 victory over Montpellier in the Amlin Challenge Cup on Friday.
In the process Michael Bradley’s men maintained their position at the top of Pool 2 in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Winger Fionn Carr struck for a try in each half, while centre Niva Ta’auso put Connacht into a lead they never lost when he touched down on 59 minutes.
The 23-year-old Carr, who is in his second season with Connacht, has been in superb scoring form in recent weeks.
His finishing skills have helped him grab three tries in four Magners League games and he also dotted down twice against Madrid in Connacht’s Amlin Challenge Cup opener.
Montpellier led 13-3 at one stage in the opening half as Ollie Smith crossed for a try and the boot of Argentinian international Frederico Todeschini put the home side into a significant lead.
Todeschini booted Montpellier in front with a second minute drop goal from in front of the posts.
A Miah Nikora penalty, four minutes later, got Connacht on the scoreboard and the westerners were unfortunate not to add to their tally after a long spell of pressure in the hosts’ 22.
Todeschini knocked over a 35-metre penalty and Connacht leaked a try to Englishman Smith, which Todeschini converted.
He made it 16-10 for half-time, with another penalty, but before that Carr had broken through on an excellent run to score his first try, which Nikora added the extras to.
Just four minutes after the restart, Connacht found another gear in attack and put Carr darting through for another try.
Centre Keith Matthews did the initial damage with a terrific break in midfield and replacement Ian Keatley, on for Nikora at half-time, gave a timely pass for Carr to run through and touch down.
Keatley added the touchline conversion to move Connacht ahead for the first time at 17-16, however Todeschini quickly replied with another penalty.
Connacht dominated the third quarter and what turned out to be the match-winning score arrived on the hour mark.
The Montpellier defence was split open once again as Connacht ran hard, switching play from the right and creating enough space for Keatley to send Ta’auso over in the left corner.
Bradley’s charges had to withstand enormous pressure from the French in the closing minutes but showing great grit in defence, they held out for an inspiring win which keeps them top of Pool 2 and gives their season a serious boost.
How sweet it was to hear ‘The Fields of Athenry’ ring out around Stade Yves du Manoir after the final whistle, and the Connacht management and players rightly acknowledged and thanked the travelling support for their efforts in willing them to another memorable European success.
For more on the Montpellier v Connacht game, including analysis and post-match reaction, log on to www.knockon.ie – covering Connacht rugby from grassroots to the professional game.