Debutant Devine steals the show with two tries in rout


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Debutant Devine steals the show with two tries in rout Debutant Devine steals the show with two tries in rout

Connacht 54

Zebre 16

JOHN FALLON at Dexcon Stadium

CONNACHT head coach Pete Wilkins hailed the superb display of scrum-half Matthew Devine, who crowned his first start with two tries, as they kept their URC knockout hopes alive with an expected bonus point win over basement side Zebre at Dexcon Stadium.

The 22-year old Garbally College and Ballinasloe RFC protégé crowned a magnificent display with a brace of tries when the game was still alive in the opening half.

Connacht then pushed on for an eight tries to two win to stay in contention for the URC quarter-finals and a place in next season’s Champions Cup.

Devine, who signed his first professional contract just over a week ago, had impressed in a couple of cameos off the bench and made the most of the opportunity.

“For us it’s not a surprise. We’ve known his natural confidence which is vital for all scrum-halves,” said Wilkins, who threw Devine in after two good appearances off the bench.

“I was thrilled, we were all thrilled for Matthew. We’ve seen his potential from early on. He’s been training with the senior squad full-time even though he’s been in the academy.

“We’ve had plenty of time working with him. It’s never been in doubt that he has those kind of X-factor moments in his game, and that pace too. It was really nice that he got a couple of highlight moments to cap it all off.”

“He’s done his time learning, not just about the flow of the game at senior level but also working with the experienced tens and facilitating the team playing,” says Wilkins.

“And that’s always the challenge for players like this, they haven’t had time in the saddle around game-management and relentlessness across the phases. And I thought he handled that brilliantly.

“For our pathways with the Academy players coming through, it’s crucial and part of our identity.”

The bonus point win was badly needed by Connacht to keep their hopes of a knockout place alive and Devine made his mark when the game was still competitive in the opening half.

Pictured: Scrum-half Matthew Devine on his way to scoring Connacht’s first try in their big win over Zebre at Dexcom Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

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