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Connacht Romp To Record Victory

Connacht Romp To Record Victory

Connacht completed a clean sweep of European wins for the provinces this weekend as they ran 12 tries past a well-beaten I Cavalieri Estra side at the Sportsground.

A record scoreline saw Connacht conclude their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign on somewhat of a high note on Saturday night.

The westerners made it two wins in succession and exacted a small bit of revenge for their opening round defeat away to I Cavalieri Estra.

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A total of 12 tries were scored including a hat-trick for Brian Tuohy and a brace for Niva Ta’auso on a night when the Italians were completely outclassed.

Out-half Ian Keatley kicked well throughout, landing nine conversions and a penalty. His 26-point haul included a classy 21st minute try.

Connacht scored six first half tries in total and could have had more against a Prato outfit that was desperately poor in defence in the opening period.

The game’s first try came from a cross-field kick from Keatley which Gavin Duffy tapped down into the arms of winger Tuohy who scored in the corner.

A wake-up call came in the guise of a Noa Soqueta try after the visitors found some space on the fringes and punished the hosts.

Alberto Chiesa converted for a 7-5 lead but it lasted a mere three minutes as Tuohy had his second try scored by the 15th minute after a fine break spearheaded by Keatley and Duffy.

Keatley kicked the conversion and added a penalty before the out-half burst clear from inside his own half, rounded full-back Billy Ngwaini and scored a brilliant solo try.

Keatley added the conversion from under the posts and by the 25th minute, Connacht had the bonus point wrapped up thanks to Mike McCarthy, who was named in Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations squad earlier this week.

Two more tries arrived in the final three minutes of the first half. Centre Ta’auso broke through some poor tackles and rounded Ngwaini brilliantly before sprinting home.

The half finished with try which started deep in Connacht territory with a neat Keith Matthews offload, and was finished off by Fionn Carr. The two conversions from Keatley left Connacht 43-7 clear at the break.

Six minutes into the second half, Keatley’s inside pass released Sean Cronin who scored his side’s seventh try and Keatley again converted. Connacht emptied their bench in the subsequent minutes but the changes did not affect their momentum.

Ray Ofisa marked his return from injury by playing a key part in Tuohy’s third try in the 53rd minute. Connacht had try number nine within two minutes when Ta’auso got his second, both scores were converted.

Try number ten came from in-form number 8 Mike McComish, after 67 minutes, and was converted by Keatley, while a  maul from a well-executed lineout allowed Adrian Flavin get in on the scoring act with three minutes remaining.

The biggest cheer of the night came in injury-time when Ofisa capped a fine return to action with Connacht’s 12th and final try. This time, replacement Miah Nikora added the extras to round off a landslide win.