Connacht paid the price for a shocking first-half display as they were beaten 21-8 by the Dragons in Newport.
Bernard Jackman’s side made the most of their visitors’ poor start to the game, and the fact they didn’t score after the break failed to make any difference to the overall result.
All Connacht had to show for their efforts was a Quinn Roux try and a Jack Carty penalty, summing up a disappointing performance.
Dragons scored tries through Hallam Amos and man of the match Elliot Dee, and those along with a conversion and three penalties from Gavin Henson were enough to take them home as Connacht failed to even gather a losing bonus point.
Connacht had a nightmare first half, falling behind inside two minutes to a sensational Amos try.
Carty immediately narrowed the deficit with a simple penalty but things went from bad to worse for the visitors. Dee soon added the Dragons’ second from close range and Henson converted before kicking three penalties in quick succession before the break.
Rory Scholes letting a ball through his legs summed up a poor Irish display and with Tiernan O’Halloran limping off with a dead leg, Kieran Keane had plenty to deal with, not least a yellow card for lock James Cannon for stopping what would have been a third Dragons try.
Henson had also been awry with one penalty effort, but a 21-3 interval deficit was always going to be difficult for Connacht to overcome. Keane introduced Kieran Marmion, Jarrad Butler and Dave Heffernan in the second half and the changes made an immediate difference.
Roux smashed his way over following a line-out surge and although Carty missed the conversion, the momentum was all with Connacht.
Keane emptied the bench even further, but the men in green were met by a wall of black wherever they went. Dangerman Bundee Aki was man marked by Jack Dixon and for all their possession, Connacht simply couldn’t break through as a disappointing night in Newport came to an end with a series of basic errors.
Scorers for Dragons:
Tries: Amos 2, Dee 19 Convs: Henson 20 Pens: Henson 24, 28, 37
Try: Roux 54 Penalty: Carty 7
Kirchner (Rosser 16, Leonard 36); Hewitt, Morgan (Jones 35), Dixon, Amos; Henson, Pretorius; Harris (Davies 76), Dee (Ellis 79), Brown (Fairbrother 76), Landman (Screech 53), Hill (capt), Keddie (Blake 64), Griffiths, Benjamin
O’Halloran (Crosbie 26); Leader, Farrell (Griffin 60), Aki, Scholes; Carty, Blade (Marmion 40); Coulson (McCabe 67), McCartney (Heffernan 40), Carey (Bealham 50), Roux (Thornbury 64), Cannon, Masterson, Heenan (Butler 40), Muldoon (capt)
Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
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