Connacht 47 Mont de Marsan 29
Connacht fulfilled expectations of advancing to the next round of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup when finishing ahead of Mont de Marsan by an aggregate 32 points at Crowley Park.
Going into the match with a 14-point lead after a 26 - 12 victory in France the previous week, it was difficult to see Connacht failing to increase their lead over the Cote Basque side, and thanks to a five-try tally, which surpassed any this season, they now face the prospect of another French side
Narbonne in the next round.
Only for a 10 minute period of the first half, Connacht were on top throughout the match. Two tries within two minutes of the second half sealed the outcome. Thereafter there was little play for except points and pride.
As both sides introduced their full complement of replacements, Connacht added a fifth try after 75 minutes, while the Mont de Marsan got over for three, including a penalty try to put some respectability on the scoreline.
Connacht had not wasted time in getting off the mark after the visitors had missed a penalty inside the first minute. Confident from the start, Connacht spurned penalty kicks at goal for touch in search of tries - the first came after Rowan Frost¹s clean catch found John O¹Sullivan who popped
the ball to hooker Marnus Uijs who galloped in from the blind 15 metres after five minutes.
They repeated their pattern 13 minutes later - his time it was O¹Sulllivan¹s catch at the tail before centre Shane Moore skipped through a porous defence to score under the posts. Elwood¹s conversion made it 14 - 0 after 21 minutes.
Somewhat surprisingly Mont de Marsan made more running during the first half, but it took until the 21st minute before they breached the Connacht defence.
The home side had done well to steal a line-out five metres from their own line, but inexplicably lost possession and Mont de Marsan¹s flanker Phillipe Alaoui barged through for a try, which outhalf Antoine Vignau Tuquet converted. He added a penalty four minutes later and in the space of four minutes they had closed the gap to four points having been 14 in arrears.
Connacht extended their lead, courtesy of two Eric Elwood penalties, the first coming as a result of Mont de Marsasn¹s flanker Guillaume Chasseriau being sinbinned for a stamping incident. And they continued to tear into the hapless opponents after the restart, scoring two match-turning efforts
inside four minutes.
Both efforts came from expansive play, the first when Rigney finished off a sweeping left-to-right move from the line-out, while a break from Johnny O¹Connor on half way was halted just short of the line, but Uijs was on hand to notch his second of the day to give Connacht a 34 - 10 lead. thereafter Connacht were content to extend their lead through Mark Mchugh penalties, , while he added the fifth try after 75 minutes.
Connacht: G Duffy; J Norton, D Yapp, S Moore (capt), W Munn; E Elwood, E Reddan; R McCormack, M Uijs, P Bracken; D Browne, R Frost; C Rigney, J O¹Connor, J O¹Sullivan. Replacements, D McFarland for Bracken, M McHugh for Elwood, J Flanneryf for Uijs (all 45m), T Robinson for Yapp & M Walls for Reddan (50m), A Maher for Frost (63m), P Neville for O¹Sullivan (64m).
Mont de Marsan: O Toulouze, A Bouyssie, S Loubsens, F Dabadie, P Patin, A Tuquet, N Moralaes, S Boizot, L Dehez, S Brian, P Lago, G Chasseriau, C Mathieu, P Alaoui, F Lalanne. Replacements: A Aguilar for Toulouze (50m), M Koita for Lago (52m), NCappanes for Loubsens, F Anglade for Booizot, O Gouillard for Dehez (all 55m), J Labat for Lalanne (60m), LMonbeig for
Yellow cards: Mont de Marsan, G Chasseriau (26m).
Referee: R Maybank (England)