Connacht fail to fire in laboured display against eager Dragons

Connacht's Quinn Roux who scored their only try in Saturday's PRO16 loss to the Dragons.
Connacht's Quinn Roux who scored their only try in Saturday's PRO16 loss to the Dragons.

Newport  21

Connacht  8

THERE you have it, yet another inexplicably poor display from Connacht in what has turned out to be an awful start to the season for the men in green. The Dragons are perennial basement dwellers and snapped an eleven game losing streak here. No serious play-off contender steps out of Rodney Parade without a single point to show for their efforts.

Kieran Keane’s men started with eight players who played a key role in the 2016 PRO12 title triumph. That should have been more than enough to produce something of a competent display here, yet what we got was a first half of chaotic defending (they were lucky not to be 30 or 40 points behind) and a second half domination of possession and territory with no penetration.

There’s no band of logic that allows us to assess the new coach’s impact on a sample size of just three games but in contrast, Bernard Jackman (in the exact same position with the Dragons) is being credited with revitalising and re-energising the dormant east Wales region. There’s certainly a good atmosphere around the place and they died with their boots for him on Friday evening at Rodney Parade.

Don’t mistake that for an explanation as to why the Dragons beating Connacht is acceptable in any assessment of this fixture. This visitors might well be on a spiral down the rankings in European rugby, but that won’t become truly clear until around the midway point of the competition. For now, we have to assume that Connacht are still a quality outfit and these results reflect a real failure to find form rather than a true reflection of their worth.

The Dragons cut loose early on Friday with Hallam Amos’ try stemming from a sweeping right to left move on half way, a mis-read in the defensive line which caught James Cannon out and then some slick hands. That gave the home side the confidence and the talented Elliot Dee got a second try midway through the half with Gavin Henson adding three penalties for a 21-3 lead.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.