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Eight-Try Rout Keeps Connacht Eagles In Quarter-Final Contention
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Eight-Try Rout Keeps Connacht Eagles In Quarter-Final Contention

Eight-Try Rout Keeps Connacht Eagles In Quarter-Final Contention

Just like the senior team against Brive, Connacht Eagles ran riot in the second half of their British & Irish Cup rematch with Richmond as they cruised to a 55-7 bonus point victory at the Sportsground.

Mossy Lawler's men ran in eight tries, all of which were converted, as they made it a full 10 points from their December double header with English Championship club Richmond. They were 38-17 winners in London last weekend.

Ireland-capped hooker Dave Heffernan and Andrew Deegan both touched down in the first half of today's round 4 fixture, with Connacht Eagles pressing home their advantage after the break with further tries from Adam Leavy, Sean Masterson, Eoin Griffin, captain Paul Boyle and replacements Pat O'Toole and Kieran Joyce.

The home side hit the front in the 10th minute when Heffernan muscled his way over to the left of the posts, after full-back Matthew Byrne had been tackled just short. Conor McKeon converted and also added the extras to his half-back partner Deegan's stylish 21st-minute score.

It came from a slick move off a lineout as centre Peter Robb's brilliant offload released Deegan on a great line and the speedy Australian out-half scampered in under the posts as the Eagles took a 14-0 lead. Given their lion's share of possession, the Eagles should have been further in front by half-time.

Richmond, who included ex-Terenure prop Gary Hamilton and former Ireland Under-20 and Ulster 'A' back rower Lorcan Dow up front, shored up their defence and the deficit remained at two converted tries. Corinthians' Dylan Tierney entered the fray on the half hour mark, replacing injured second row Peter Claffey in the Connacht pack.

The Eagles increased their intensity and accuracy on the resumption, and just three minutes in they were celebrating their third try. After some good phase-building, replacement scrum half Caolin Blade broke from the back of a ruck and offloaded out of a tackle for Lansdowne winger Leavy to score from close range.

Deegan took over the kicking duties and converted before Connacht began to really hit their stride, thriving from some neat interplay and angles of running. An attack which started in their own 22, and with a regathered kick, finished with flanker Masterson registered the bonus point try which Deegan converted.

Masterson was involved twice from the restart as the Eagles quickly broke downfield again and last season's Ireland Under-19 captain slipped a terrific offload to Griffin who supplied the finishing touches to try number five. Richmond got off the mark before the end of the third quarter as blindside Adam Lee crashed over for a converted effort.

Nonetheless, Connacht Eagles made sure they ended the game on a high with three more tries during the final 12 minutes. Replacement hooker O'Toole crossed from a powerful lineout maul to make it 42-7 before skipper Boyle chipped in with a try, finishing off some good work on the left wing from the backs. Deegan converted both to take his tally for the day to 15 points.

The dominant Eagles passed the half-century mark in the 79th minute as Joyce showed good pace and strength to dive over and join his fellow Connacht Academy first-year recruits, Masterson and Boyle, on the scoresheet. Replacement Craig Ronaldson, who got some more game-time in his return from a calf injury, sent the conversion over to seal a 49-point winning margin.

Next up for Lawler's Eagles is a crunch January 13 trip to unbeaten Pool 4 leaders Ealing Trailfinders who have amassed 20 points. The second-placed Connacht youngsters have nine points to make up on Ealing and will be out for revenge after suffering a 71-14 hammering at the hands of the west London outfit in October.

Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Matthew Byrne; Adam Leavy, Eoin Griffin, Peter Robb, Stacey Ili; Andrew Deegan, Conor McKeon; Conan O'Donnell, Dave Heffernan, Conor Kenny, Peter Claffey, Gavin Thornbury, Naulia Dawai, Sean Masterson, Paul Boyle (capt).

Replacements: Pat O'Toole, Denis Coulson, Callum Torpey, Dylan Tierney, Caolin Blade, Craig Ronaldson, Kieran Joyce.

Away Team

Ali Chisholm; Morgan Ward, Cameron Hudson, Rhys Owen, Luke Outhwaite; Rory Damant (capt), Callum Grant; Gary Hamilton, Jamie Townsend, Alex Wood, Alex Humfrey, Myles Scott, Adam Lee, Simon Edwards, Lorcan Dow.

Replacements: Richard Townsend, Gino Corradi, Harry Innis, Lucien Maman, Chris Reakes, Fraser Wem, Danny Parkinson.

Match Scorers

Home Team

Tries: Dave Heffernan, Andrew Deegan, Adam Leavy, Sean Masterson, Eoin Griffin, Pat O'Toole, Paul Boyle, Kieran Joyce; Cons: Conor McKeon 2, Andrew Deegan 5, Craig Ronaldson

Away Team

Try: Adam Lee; Con: Ali Chisholm