Carty drop-goal seals Connacht win in Swansea
MATCH REPORT: Jack Carty’.s second-half drop-goal proved just enough for Connacht to edge out Ospreys 22-19 in an entertaining clash in Swansea.
Both teams scored three each, but the Ospreys will reflect on surrendering an early 12-0 lead as they were left with just one win from their opening seven United Rugby Championship fixtures.
Connacht’s tries came from Alex Wootton, Caolin Blade and John Porch, with Carty converting two to go along with his ultimately crucial drop-goal.
Huw Sutton, Reuben Morgan-Williams and Sam Parry crossed for the Ospreys, Jack Walsh adding two conversions.
No.8 Jarrad Butler led out Connacht on his 100th appearance but his side soon fell behind to a third-minute try.
A chip ahead from Morgan-Williams bounced favourably for the Ospreys as Luke Morgan collected before Sutton capitalised by forcing his way over.
Morgan-Williams was soon back in the thick of the action by creating and scoring Ospreys’. second try.
From a ruck 30 metres out, the scrum-half was aware that the blindside was uncovered so he sent Keiran Williams racing away in that channel before the centre’s return pass allowed Morgan-Williams to coast in.
Ospreys suffered a setback when Ethan Roots was yellow-carded for a high challenge but the flanker was able to return with no damage done to the scoreboard.
Despite conceding 12 points inside the opening 10 minutes, the visitors had much the better of territory and possession in the first 30 minutes but inaccuracy in their passing and stubborn defence from the hosts prevented them from benefitting.
Eventually Ospreys’. defence cracked when a long pass from Carty provided Wootton with a simple run-in before Connacht suffered an injury blow when full-back Tiernan O’Halloran limped off.
The Irish region immediately overcame that blow to score their second try when centres David Hawkshaw and Tom Farrell combined cleverly to split the defence, with Blade on hand to pick up and score. Carty’.s conversion gave his side a 14-12 interval lead.
The second half saw Connacht maintain their momentum and when the home side lost a crucial line-out, Porch was able to increase their advantage by strolling over.
That try was the only score of a featureless but well-contested third quarter, with one sharp burst from Keelan Giles the only notable piece of play.
A 30-metre drop-goal from Carty gave Connacht a two-score lead and that ended up proving key as Ospreys ensured a tight finish when Parry crashed over for their third try, reducing the gap to three points.
However, the hosts could get no nearer and had to be content with a losing bonus point.
Player of the Match
Connacht scrumhalf Blade impressed with a well-judged game. He took most of the correct options to support his half-back partner Carty in controlling the match and was on hand to finish off one of his side’.s best moves to give the Irish region a half-time lead.
Play of the match
After 30 minutes, Connacht trailed 12-0 and badly needed a spark to reward their territorial dominance. It came from a long pass from Carty who provided Wootton with an easy run-in to get the scoreboard moving and the visitors never looked back as they scored 22 points in succession.
Tries: Sutton, Morgan-Williams, Parry
Cons: Walsh 2
Tries: Wootton, Blade, Porch
Cons: Carty 2
Ospreys: 15 Max Nagy, 14 Luke Morgan, 13 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Jack Walsh, 9 Reuben Morgan Williams, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Harri Deaves, 6 Ethan Roots, 5 Huw Sutton, 4 Rhys Davies, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Scott Baldwin (captain), 1 Rhys Henry.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Garyn Phillips, 18 Ben Warren, 19 Jack Regan, 20 Tristan Davies, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Luke Scully, 23 Cai Evans.
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’.Halloran, 14 Alex Wootton, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 David Hawkshaw, 11 John Porch, 10 Jack Carty (captain), 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 5 Gavin Thornbury, 4 Oisín Dowling, 3 Jack Aungier, 2 Dylan Tierney-Martin, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Jordan Duggan, 18 Sam Illo, 19 Darragh Murray 20 Paul Boyle, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Tom Daly, 23 Adam Byrne.
Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales), Mark Butcher (Wales)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)