Connacht’s bonus point win keeps destiny in own hands


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Connacht’s bonus point win keeps destiny in own hands Connacht’s bonus point win keeps destiny in own hands

Dragons 27

Connacht 34


CONNACHT, having done all that was required of them in getting the maximum ten points off their two clashes against the basement sides Zebre and Dragons, are in control of their own destiny heading into the final three games of this season’s United Rugby Championship.

Trips away to Munster and Leinster, with a real ten-pointer in between at home against last year’s finalists and the 2022 champions the Stormers, represent a fairly formidable test, but any slippage over the last two weekends would have been fatal.

They were tested against the Dragons and while there were plenty of flaws and anxious moments, they were never behind in this contest at Rodney Parade, and yet never made the victory safe, even when Dragons had a man sent off 11 minutes from time.

The win has come at a price as well with Denis Buckley, Cian Prendergast and JJ Hanrahan all going off injured. Out-half Hanrahan was stretchered off and with Jack Carty making his way back from a hamstring injury, that’s the position that will be of most concern ahead of the trip to Thomond Park on Saturday week.

And while the home loss to the Lions and getting caught at the death in Treviso the following week have made life difficult, Connacht will go there on the back of five wins in their last seven league games and, regardless of how tight it is in the middle of the table in the battle for the eight qualification spots for the quarter-finals and next season’s Champions Cup, Wilkins men now control their own fate.

“We are moving in the right direction in terms of the table,” he said. “It will keep changing no doubt, but as long as we are winning, that is the most important thing.

“It was not long ago we were sitting in tenth, so to be going into these last three games where we are up to sixth now, that is the important bit.”

Connacht enjoyed 71% possession in the opening half in Newport but had to be content with a 19-14 interval advantage after the Dragons struck for their second try deep into stoppage time to stay in the contest despite a tackle count of 110 from the Dragons to 21 for the visitors.

Wilkins knew the value of laying down an early marker at Rodney Parade and Shamus Hurley-Langton duly obliged when he got over in just two minutes after sustained early pressure.

Pictured: The fit-again John Porch who was of Connacht’s try scorers in their bonus point URC win over the Dragons.

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