Connacht stay in race for last eight

European Challenge Cup Pool 2: Connacht 42 Bayonne 19

Connacht stay in race  for last eight

Pat Lam insists there is plenty of room for improvement after Connacht’s bonus winning performance over Bayonne at the Galway Sportsground.

The five-try victory keeps Connacht in the hunt for quarter-final qualification but, with more exacting contests over the next three weeks, Lam is still searching for that elusive perfection.

“We spoke about too many troughs in the game, and building into what’s coming up away from home with Bayonne, then Leinster, Ulster and Munster, we can’t afford to have those troughs.”

The Connacht players have rarely experienced the driving wind and rain in their faces in the opening half which they concluded with a second try from man of the match Danie Poolman to take a 15-12 lead, Bayonne limited to four penalties from full-back Martin Bustos Moyano. The two tries from Poolman came after two penalties kicked to touch, with the pack forging forward and Poolman finishing with aplomb.

However Bayonne, bulldozed their way over the line, with prop Florian Lapeyrade touching down after the restart. Yet his sin-binning in the 59th minute provided real impetus to Lam’s men, who scored three tries in the final 20.

As Connacht’s set piece began to yield penalties, outhalf Jack Carty regained the lead, and a minute later Kieran Marmion’s box kick bounced for a delighted Bundi Aki to race in for his first Connacht try. Carty delivered a superb touchline conversion to open up a 28-19 lead.

Ten minutes later they made the game safe when Connacht’s rolling maul provided Dave McSharry with the opportunity to bag the fourth try, while the pack finished with another driving maul and replacement openside Willie Faloon touching down.

CONNACHT: M Muliana; D Poolman, B Aki, D McSharry, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, T McCartney, R Ah You; Q Roux, M Kearney; J Muldoon, E McKeon; G Naopu.

Replacements: M Swift for Kearney (6), F Bealham for Ah You (62), R Loughney for Buckley (62), W Faloon for McKeon (66), D Leader for M Healy (66), C Ronaldson for J Carty, C Blade for Marmion (both 70), D Heffernan for T McCartney (71).

BAYONNE: M Bustos Moyano (C Otazo half-time); P Sayerse, L Foketi, S Vaka, J Elissalde; M Ugalde, B Duhalde; L Pointud S Labourie, F Lapeyrade; D Senekal, L Fa’aoso; B Chouzneoux, C Ancely; T Visensang.

Replacements: C Otazo for Bustos Moyano (halftime), C Loustalot for Vaka , P Bruno for Pointud (54), D Roumieu for Labouyrie (55), A Iguiniz for C Ancely (65).

Referee: M Carley (England).

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