Connacht too good for 14-man Brive
CHALLENGE CUP REPORT: Connacht defeated Brive 31-24 at the French side’s Stade Amédée-Domenech in the EPCR Challenge Cup on Friday.
The Irish province were dominant throughout most of the match, racking up a bonus-point win, David Hawkshaw, Tom Daly, Diarmuid Kilgallen, Shane Delahunt all scoring tries.
Connacht benefitted from former player Abraham Papali’I picking up a red card on 20 minutes, yet they still staged a late fightback to put visiting hearts in mouths with tries from Tom Raffy and Kevin Fabien (2).
Connacht’s first try came before Papali’I’s red, with Hawkshaw finishing well and Conor Fitzgerald kicking the first of his four conversions.
Daly followed up with Connacht’s second on half an hour, and they added another when Brive went down to 13 due to a yellow for Tevita Ratuva, Kilgallen crossing in the corner.
The comfort for Connacht seemed set to continue in the second period when hooker Delahunt finished early on in the half, with Fitzgerald adding the extras again.
Brive’s first try then came through Raffy on the hour mark, but a Fitzgerald penalty soon after seemed as though it would kill off the game.
But 20-year-old centre Fabien had other ideas, scoring two brilliant tries in the left corner in a nine-minute flurry to leave the score 31-24 and set up a nervy last five minutes for Connacht.
But the Irish province held on, and claimed all the points on offer as they made it two wins from two in Pool A.
The two meet again in Round three, this time at The Sportsground in Galway, on January 14.
Tries: Raffy, Fabien
Cons: Laranjeira 3
Tries: Hawkshaw, Daly, Kilgallen, Delahunt
Cons: Fitzgerald 3
Brive: 15 Seta Tuicuvu, 14 Kevin Fabien, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Sam Arnold, 11 Wesley Douglas, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Paul Abadie, 8 Abraham Papali’i, 7 Said Hireche (captain), 6 Retief Marais, 5 Tevita Ratuva, 4 Renger van Eerten, 3 Tietie Tuimauga, 2 Florian Dufour, 1 Daniel Brennan
Replacements: 16 Vano Karkadze, 17 Nathan Fraissenon, 18 Pietro Ceccareli, 19 Julien Delannoy, 20 Matthieu Voisin, 21 Enzo Sanga, 22 Tom Raffy, 23 Thomas Laranjeira.
Connacht: 15 Conor Fitzgerald, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Tom Daly, 11 Diarmuid Kilgallen, 10 David Hawkshaw, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Paul Boyle (captain), 7 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 6 Oisin Dowling, 5 Gavin Thornbury, 4 Darragh Murray, 3 Sam Illo,2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Peter Dooley.
Replacements: 16 David Heffernan, 17 Jordan Duggan, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Niall Murray, 20 Ciaran Booth, 21 Colm Reilly, 22 Byron Ralston, 23 Oran McNulty.
Referee: Adam Leal (England)
Assistant referees: Alex Thomas (England) & Wayne Falla (England)
TMO: Dan Jones (England)
*Photo Credit: @ConnachtRugby