And while they failed to grab a try bonus point, Eric Elwood was delighted with the way his players turned possession into points ahead of their Heineken Cup meeting with Harlequins.
“We are back on the horse, and it sets us up for our visit to Harlequins,” Elwood said. “If someone had said before he game that was going to be the score, 30-6 with the last play of the game, we would have taken it. The good thing is we got the victory at home, it was a great crowd, and when you have nights like that, you can play ball.’’
Having lost both recent inter-provincials, Connacht were under pressure against a side just two points below them on the RaboDirect Pro 12 table.
“To be honest all week we never once mentioned the word Dragons and never mentioned the word win. We knew we had a lot of ball against Leinster but didn’t make our opportunities pay, so the key this week was to worry about ourselves and we knew if we did that we were capable of winning this match.”
Within eight minutes outhalf Dan Parks struck two penalties and with Mike McCarthy controlling the pack, the backs forced gaps through the Dragons’ cover. Fetu’u Vainikolo’s surging break upfield forced two five-metre scrums from which the under-pressure Dragons conceded a penalty try. Parks added the extras for a 13-0 lead and by the 26th minute Connacht had added a second when, from an incisive break, Dave McSharry found George Naoupu in support who finished off before he was force to retire injured.
While right wing Tom Prydie got the Dragons on the scoreboard with a penalty both sides of the break, Connacht’s best attacking try came from Poolman who finished off an expansive move involving Parks, fullback Robbie Henshaw and McSharry. Another well-struck sideline kick from Parks stretched the lead to 27-6.
Although the Dragons enjoyed a period of dominance, their centre partnership of Adam Hughes and Andy Tuilagi were well marshalled as Michael Swift and McCarthy continued to win the breakdown battle. Replacement scrumhalf Jonathan Evans’ consolation try at the death was of little consequence for a Connacht outfit heading to Harlequins with a much-needed win under its belt.
CONNACHT: R Henshaw; D Poolman, E Griffin, D McSharry, F Vainikolo; D Parks, K Marmion; D Buckley, J Harris-Wright, N White; M Swift, M McCarthy; A Browne, E McKeon, G Naoupu.
Replacements: E Grace for Naoupu (31m), P O’Donohoe for Marmion (45m), B Wilkinson for Buckley and R Loughney for White (52m), E Reynecke for Harris-Wright, T O’Halloran for Griffin and M Kearney for Swift (all 62m), M Jarvis for Parks (70m).
DRAGONS: H Amos; T Prydie, A Hughes, A Tuilagi, T Chavhanga; L Robling, W Evans; P Price, S Parry, N Buck; A Coombs; R Sidoli; L Evans, N Cudd, T Faletau.
Replacements: H Gustafson for Parry (45m), T Brown for Evans (52m), J Dixon for Chavhanga (54m), O Evans for Price, D Way for Buck and A Jones for Sidolo (all 59m), A Smith for Robling (67m), J Evans for Brown (72m).
Referee: A MacMenemy (SRU)