Connacht Eagles were outscored by four tries to one as they went down 29-10 to Pontypridd in the penultimate round of the British & Irish Cup pool stages.
Connacht Eagles winger Shane O'Leary opened the scoring at Sardis Road with an early penalty, while captain Eoghan Masterson crossed for a second half try. Replacement out-half Conor McKeon added the conversion.
Giving his reaction afterwards, Connacht Eagles head coach Nigel Carolan said: “We started and finished both halves well and its pleasing that we've got young guys who are able to play at this level with ambition.
“The challenge for us is to try and perform for the whole 80 minutes. Another pleasing aspect was the character we showed.”
Carolan's young charges wrap up their British & Irish Cup campaign at the Sportsground next Saturday when they host unbeaten Pool 1 leaders Bristol (kick-off 2pm).
Pontypridd were pegged back by the Eagles who forced them to concede early penalties in front of a 1,100-strong crowd. This led to O'Leary splitting the the posts with three minutes on the clock.
Ponty were level after their out-half Simon Humberstone converted a penalty, albeit against the run of play as Carolan's side enjoyed a greater share of early possession.
This round 5 contest remained at a stalemate until the end of the first quarter when the home pack drove up close to the Connacht try-line, allowing experienced scrum half Tavis Knoyle to snipe over for a try which Humberstone converted.
The Eagles came under further pressure after centre Rory Parata was sin-binned for infringement. Ponty duly finished the first half in strong fashion, moving 15-3 clear after a fluent attack led to a try in the corner from winger Owen Jenkins.
Handling errors blighted a couple of promising Ponty sorties, while Connacht's backs countered a pace as they tried to hit back on the scoreboard.
However, the Welsh club managed to increase their lead when replacement hooker Liam Belcher touched down from close range and the conversion was added by Humberstone.
Following a decent spell of Connacht pressure, Ponty forced the issue through their forwards with a lineout drive. The Eagles held them at bay until centre Garyn Smith squeezed over for the bonus point score, with Humberstone again converting.
The Connacht youngsters battled on and were finally rewarded in the 78th minute when flanker Masterson struck from close range, with his try converted by Lansdowne clubman McKeon.
There was further action in injury-time as replacement Lewis Williams watched his long range penalty effort come back off the crossbar and then try scorer Smith was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on.
Referee: Fergus Kirby (England)