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Connacht tame the Bears to secure Challenge Cup spot

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From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Connacht tame the Bears to secure Challenge Cup spot Connacht tame the Bears to secure Challenge Cup spot

Connacht 27

Bristol Bears 10

By JOHN FALLON at Dexcom Stadium

BRISTOL Bears coach Pat Lam had no complaints as his side was dumped out of Europe by the team he led to their only silverware eight years ago.

Lam’s return to Galway on a night when the Sportsground was renamed Dexcom Stadium was ruined as Connacht thrashed them from start to finish to secure a knockout place in the Challenge Cup.

“You have to be at your best when you come here but you make it even harder if you don’t play your best,” said Lam. “We coughed up too much ball and Connacht put us under pressure. Huge congratulations to Connacht.

“We are all disappointed. You give Connacht opportunities you don’t take your opportunities, you pay the price. It was a good night for the west of Ireland.”

The 13th minute dismissal of lock Josh Caulfield for a stamp on Irish tighthead Finlay Bealham undermined Bears’ hopes of advancing in the Champions Cup. Caulfield has since been cleared by a disciplinary hearing.

“It was a complete accident. I just saw Finlay, thankfully he’s all good. It was 100% an accident. It does make it harder. It means you have to be more accurate and we weren’t. He was devastated and apologised to Finlay after.”

A yellow card seven minutes later to Kyle Sinckler as Connacht scored their second try was another big blow and while Connacht didn’r score when it was 15 against 13, they took a 17-3 lead into the break.

Connacht got the perfect start when good work by Andrew Smith and David Hawkshaw ended with Shayne Bolton scoring down the left for the opening try.

Bealham’s temporary replacement Jack Aungier made the most of his cameo when an opening created by captain Caolin Blade ended with the tighthead scoring beside the posts, with Sinckler binned for an infringement in the build-up.

Pictured: Connacht’s Cian Prendergast and Niall Murray leading this charge against Harry Randall of Bristol Bears during Friday’s Champions Cup tie at Dexcom Park. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

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