Connacht 15 Worcester Warriors 8: You suspect the more Kieran Keane settles into life in Galway the more he appreciates exactly what his predecessor Pat Lam achieved, not just with limited resources but the manner in which he got them to play in the difficult climatic conditions.
This clash between two bonus point winners from the opening round of the Challenge Cup was again ruined by a strong wind in the exposed and bleak surroundings, with a half-filled stadium on a damp afternoon doing little to enhance proceedings.
A week earlier, in the splendid, albeit near-empty, Stade de Geneve, Keane’s men cut loose in the benign conditions and dry pitch to score their biggest ever away win to a French side, 43-15.
In their own backyard, yet again, they struggled in the wind and never looked like securing the bonus point. But if Keane was bothered by Warriors, the bottom team in the Premiership with six losses from six, he concealed it well in his brief post-match press conference. “I am not really thinking too much about it. Keep winning and it doesn’t matter too much does it,” he said.
The main concern now is regrouping for a crack at Munster at the Sportsground on Friday as they try to rectify their dismal PRO14 form which has seen them win just one of six encounters. First up will be an injury assessment after losing flanker James Connolly, centre Eoin Griffin and lock Quinn Roux over the 80 minutes.
The win was achieved despite only leading 8-0 at the break, having played with the wind, with Eoghan Masterson crowning his first game as captain with the opening try after seven minutes.
A penalty from Jack Carty was all they were able to add to that opening try by the break, despite dominating most sectors.
Worcester, with Donncha O’Callaghan on the bench providing cover in a game that he was due to sit out, rallied after the restart and a try from winger Josh Adams after 53 minutes gave them hope.
But a grubber from Carty sat up perfectly for Matt Healy, who last week became Connacht’s top European scorer with a brace away to Oyonnax, who raced through from the right wing to score under the posts.
Carty converted but Connacht never looked like pushing for a bonus point, and Keane, while pleased with the result, was not happy with the performance on an afternoon when flanker Jarad Butler enhanced his standing in a back row where Eoin McKeon and Masterson were also outstanding.
“We are going to have to lift our standards to live with Munster. The conditions in Geneva and Galway are chalk and cheese. It’s tough and you have got to take that into consideration too. It was a pretty tough day, weather-wise, and I thought we would be better,” added Keane.
Scorers for Connacht:
Tries: E Masterson, M Healy; Con: Carty; Pen: Carty.
Scorers for Worcester Warriors:
Try: J Adams; Pen: J Lance.
T O’Halloran; D Leader, B Aki, E Griffin, M Healy; J Carty, C Blade; D Buckley, D Heffernan, D Robertson-McCoy; Q Roux, J Cannon; E McKeon, J Connolly, E Masterson.
J Butler for Connolly (2), C Ronaldson for Griffin (27), C Carey for Robertson-McCoy (43), C Gallagher for Roux (48), K Marmion for Blade (55), S Delahunt for Heffernan (55), C Kelleher for O’Halloran (59), P McCabe for Buckley (73).
C Pennell; T Howe, W Olivier, J Willison, J Adams; J Lance; E Waller, J Singleton, G Milasinovich; P Phillips, W Spencer; D Denton, A Faosiliva, GJ van Velze.
M Dowsett for Arr (50), H Taylor for van Velze (55), Arr for Dowsett (59), S Kerrod for Milasinovich (56), P Humphreys for Howe (59), D O’Callaghan for Phillips (65), R Bower for Waller (65), Dowsett for Arr (70), M Williams for Singleton (70).
I Davies (WRU).
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