Jack Carty crowned a glorious week as he celebrating his call-up to the Irish squad by scoring the match-winning try three minutes from time to send Connacht into the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup.
Andy Friend’s men did it the hard way, coming from eight points adrift in the final nine minutes to snatch a dramatic win at Stade Chaban Delams..
They looked to bow out as Bordeaux Begles, already eliminated, tried turned the screw in the closing minutes.
But Connacht never gave up and struck twice in the closing minutes to snatch a dramatic win, much to the delight of the several hundred Connacht fans in the crowd of 11,889.
A try by Matt Healy after ten minutes gave Connacht a perfect start and it got better after Bordeaux out-half Lucas Meret pulled back a penalty, when Andy Friend’s men struck for their second try.
They were rewarded for going to the right corner with a penalty and Quin Roux, captaining the side for the first time, finished off a fine move where Bundee Aki was again a key figure.
But Bordeaux Begles made it clear they were up for a battel even though they were already out of contention in the Challenge Cup.
A malfunction in the Connacht lineout was punished when replacement Afa Amosa got for their opening try and a conversion and a penalty from Meret pushed the French 13-12 in front after 25 minutes.
The Connacht response was good and the impressive Healy made the break which put his full-back Tiernan O’Halloran through to score, with David Horwitz adding the easy conversion.
However, Bordeaux struck just before the break when replacement prop Jefferson Poirot spotted a gap in the Connacht defence to go through and score, with Meret’s fourth kick of the opening half leaving them 20-19 in front at the interval.
Bordeaux struck a telling blow nine minutes after the restart when Serin got in for their third try after Connacht were turned over inside their own half.
Tom Farrell almost hit back for Connacht but couldn’t ground the ball, but they got a lifeline eight minutes from time when they went from their own line to the other end in a superb move for Healy to get their second try.
Jack Carty, who had come on with another newcomer to the Irish squad Caolin Blade in the second-half, added the conversion to leave just one between them.
They didn’t stop there and they sealed a dramatic win when Carty broke from 30 metres to score under the posts before adding the conversion to seal the win.
Scorers for Bordeaux Begles: A Amosa, J Poirot, B Serin tries; L Meret 3 cons, 2 pens.
Scorers for Connacht: M Healy 2, Q Roux, T O’Halloran, J Carty tries; D Horwitz 2 cons, J Carty 2 cons.
Bordeaux-Begles: D Domvo; N Plazy, S Tamanivalu, U Seuteni, G Tilsley; L Meret, B Serin; L Delboubes, M Lamothe, V Afatia; M Galarza, C Cazeaux; C Woki, A Roumat (c), L Houston.
Replacements: A Amosa for Roumat (20), J Poirot for Delboubes (28), A Roumat for Amosa (30), S Desaubies for Seuteni (41), A Pélissié for Woki (52), V Cobilas for Afatia (52), J Gimbert for Serin (52), A Amosa for Cazeaux (61), L Lebruad for Tamanivalu (71), N Decron for Lamothe (71)
Connacht: T O’Halloran; D Leader, T Farrell, B Aki, M Healy; D Horwitz, S Kerins; P McCabe, S Delahunt, F Bealham; G Thornbury, Q Roux (C); P Boyle, J Connolly, E McKeon.
Replacements: C Blade for Kerins (46), J Carty for Horwitz (50), D Robertson-McCoy for Bealham (56), E Masterson for Connolly (58), M Burke for McCabe (61), J Murphy for Delahunt (63)
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy).