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Connacht stuns Bears and move up in pool

MATCH REPORT: It was a disappointing return to Dexcom Stadium for Pat Lam as Connacht ended their eight-match losing run with a 10-27 demolition of his Bristol Bears in the Challenge Cup.

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It means that Connacht – one of Lam’s former clubs – moved off the bottom of Pool 1.

They won’t know until Saturday, however, whether they have made it to the knockout stage, with Saracens able to upset the Irish province’s hopes in their match against Lyon.

A clumsy foot from second row Josh Caulfield caught the side of the skull of prop Finlay Bealham to earn him a red card in the 14th minute, and although Connacht Rwere already 5-0 up thanks to a seventh-minute try from wing Shayne Bolton, it decided the direction of the rest of the match.

Prop Jack Aungier got his first try of the competition as he powered over the line, with scrumhalf Caolin Blade getting in on the action just after the half hour, sprinting free from the pack’s well-organised maul and crossing in the corner.

Wing Andrew Smith had plenty of freedom down the right wing, thinking he had scored the most spectacular try of the evening before the video referee suggested that his foot had edged into touch by the most minute of margins.

Smith made up for it a couple of minutes later, unmarked in the same area as he raced through to confirm a bonus point.

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Flyhalf JJ Hanrahan and replacement Jack Carty added a conversion each, with Carty also kicking a second-half penalty.

Bristol Bears mustered only a first-half penalty from flyhalf AJ MacGinty, with an added-time penalty try merely a consolation.

Scorers:

For Connacht:
Tries: Bolton, Aungier, Blade, Smith
Cons: Hanrahan, Carty
Pens: Carty

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For Bristol Bears:
Tries: Penalty
Pens: MacGinty

Red card: Finlay Bealham (Connacht – 14’ high tackle)

Teams:

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Andrew Smith, 13 David Hawkshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Shayne Bolton, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Caolin Blade (captain), 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 6 Cian Prendergast, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Niall Murray, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tadgh McElroy, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Oisin Dowling, 20 Conor Oliver, 21 Michael McDonald, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Oran McNulty

Bristol Bears: 15 Max Malins, 14 Kalaveti Ravouvou, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Fitz Harding (captain), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Joe Batley, 4 Josh Caulfield, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Gabriel Oghre, 1 Jake Woolmore.
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Sam Grahamslaw, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Joe Owen, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 James Williams, 23 Piers O’Conor

Referee: Pierre Brousset (France)
Assistant referees: Kevin Bralley (France), Pierre-Baptiste Nuchy (France)
TMO: Denis Grenouillet (France)

Source @EPCR

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