Muldoon leads Connacht charge towards top six

Dragons 8 Connacht 24

Muldoon leads Connacht charge towards top six

In recording a fourth successive win for the first time since season 2002/03, Pat Lam’s side have now overtaken the Newport Gwent outfit and Edinburgh to claim seventh — four points off next week’s opponents Scarlets.

Two John Muldoon tries, along with one apiece from Rodney Ah You and Michael Swift maintained Connacht’s momentum, and once again it was forward driven.

Facing into the stiff breeze, Connacht started poorly, conceding possession and two penalties in the opening five minutes, one of which out-half Jason Tovey converted. It took Connacht 10 minutes to put together a sustained attack, but they spurned a certain try when, having shunted Dragons over the line, quick-thinking flanker Nic Cudd dived on the ball to deprive the visitors.

However, scrum-half Kieran Marmion put the visitors back into an attacking position with a clean break, and once again the scrum proved too much for the hosts, with Muldoon grabbing the touchdown and out-half Dan Parks adding the conversion after 17 minutes.

Connacht’s superiority in the set piece began to frustrate the Newport outfit, and a third penalty conceded in the lineout resulted in lock Robert Sidoli being sent to the bin. Connacht capitalised almost immediately, with prop Ah You the beneficiary after another lineout and drive. Parks tagged on the extras.

Dragons, in changing their entire front row, went some way to neutralising Connacht’s advantage, shoring up their scrum, and providing their backs with better ball, but it was Lam’s side who broke the second-half stalemate thanks to their trusty scrum. A fine Parks touchfinder from a penalty provided the pack with another opportunity, and from Browne’s catch and ensuing drive, Muldoon grabbed his second of the day to keep Connacht in the driving seat.

A yellow card for Connacht replacement Darragh Leader fuelled the Dragon’s hopes, and with Connacht’s defence stretched out wide, right wing Tom Prydie ran in for a 69th minute try.

Connacht, however, saw out the game on the front foot and crowned a solid display when Swift went over from a drive two minutes from time to give them a fourth successive win for the first time since 2002, and a third winning bonus point in-a-row.

NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS: D Evans, T Prydie, R Wardle, J Dixon, W Harries, J Tovey, R Rees; O Evans, H Gustafson, B Douglas, A Coombs R Sidoli, L Evans, N Cudd, N Talei.

Replacements: E Lee for Gustafson, P Price for Evans and D Bell for Douglas (all 28), A Smith for Dixon (47), T Faletau for Talei (50), W Evans for Rees (53), M Screech for Sidoli (57m), Douglaas for Bell (59).

CONNACHT: R Henshaw, T O’Halloran, E Griffin, D McSharry, F Carr, D Parks, K Marmion, D Buckley, J Harris-Wright, R Ah You, A Muldowney, M Kearney, J Muldoon), E Masterson, E McKeon.

Replacements: D Leader for McSharry (22), D Heffernan for Harris-Wright (39), N White for A You (47), A Browne for Masterson (50m), M Nikora for Parks (66), R Loughney for Buckley (74).

Referee: George Clancy (IRFU).

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