Outhalf Jack Carty has become Connacht's all-time top points scorer after a comprehensive 43-24 over the Emirates Lions at the weekend.
The 30-years-old, who made made 180 appearances for his provincial club since 2012, overcame a record held by former Connacht great Eric Elwood,
Carty went into the weekend's game with needing only six to equal Elwood’s record of 1152 points, and after missing an early kick, he was on target with a penalty and two conversions by the 26th minute to overtake the record that had been in place since 2005.
“It gave me goosebumps when I heard the crowd,” he says. “I didn’t think I’d feel anything, but the place means so much to me. To emulate someone like Eric and what he has done, to be spoken in the same sentence as him is something quite special. It is something when I’m finished and retired I will look back at with massive pride.”
"It was nice when they made the announcement. It was a nice touch, and the crowd gave me a cheer."
Carty confessed if that missed kick had happened at the start of the season when he hadn't been kicking well, he probably would have thought, 'here we go again'.
"But I’ve done a lot of work with Mossie (Lawlor]. I was too relaxed when kicking, so now I’m trying to sing a song when kicking. It seems to help and it’s an enjoyable thing to do. I had lost sight of that when missing simple kicks, but since the Brive game I have kicked well, so hopefully it keeps going.
"Monday to Friday, I would kick 90 per cent of my kicks, and then at games it would be a sense of the yips, but since Brive I have manged to transfer Monday to Friday into the game."
More points to come
Connacht coaching director Andy Friend hailed Carty's performance as “outstanding”.
“The way he attacked the ball and carried the ball square gave so many options for us. He managed the game well, and to beat the great Eric Elwood is no mean feat, so that’s a huge honour for him, and he has a lot more points to score too.”
It was an all-action opening half with five tries were scored, but crucially Connacht had the upper hand, and led by 29-17 thanks to a fast start and a set piece that delivered.
From a penalty to touch, Friend’s side backed their ball retention skills, and went through the phases before right wing Diarmuid Kilgallen found his way over the line. That was Carty's missed kick, but after both sides exchanged penalties, Connacht led 8-3, and he was four points from a new record.
Although the visitors capitalised from a penalty with prop Asenathi Ntlabnakanye touching down and 20-years-old outhalf Jordan Hendrikse adding the extras, the home side replied similarly with Shane Delahunt delivering the second try - Carty’s added gthe extras to make it 15-10 - only one point was between him and history.
The Connacht crowd did not have to wait long. Prop Jack Aungier provided the impetus before scrumhalf Caolin Blade forced his way through the defence to score. Carty's conversion secured him the title of Connacht’s all-time leading points scorer.
Although the South Africans capitalised on two successive penalties to pave the way for centre Henco Van Wyk to score, that was as close as they got. Tries each side of the break from Tiernan O’Halloran and Blade put Connacht into a 36-17 lead, before man of the match Blade notched his hat-trick - Connacht’s third in three matches.
It was of little relevance when the visitors added a 66th minute try through centre and captain Marius Louw. It was Connacht's win and Carty's night - richly deserved for both team and player.
Yellow Card: Connacht, S Delahunt (32 ).
Connacht: T O’Halloran, D Kilgallen, T Farrell, C Forde, J Porch, J Carty (C ), C Blade, P Dooley, S Delahunt, J Aungier, D Murray, N Murray, J Murphy, C Oliver, J Butler Replacements: S Hurley-Langton for Oliver (8-18 ), D Tierney-Martin for Kilgallon (38-43 ), D Tierney-Martin for Delahunt and O McNulty for O’Halloran ((57 ), S Hurling-LangtopN for Murphy (58 ), J Duggan for Dooley, D Robertson-McCoy for Aungier and T Daly for Forde (all 61 ), K Marmion for Blade (63 ), L Fifita for D Murray (68 ).
Emirates Lions: Q Horn, S Pienaar, H van Wyk, M Louw (C ), E van der Merwe, J Hendrikse, A Warner, JP Smith, PJ Botha, A Ntlabakanye, W Alberts, Darrien Landsberg, S Sangweni, E van Heerden, E Tshituka. Replacements: M van den Berg for Warner (50m ), P Jansen van Vuren for Lansberg and M Rass for van Wyk (both 51 ), M Naude for JP Smith (57 ), J Kriel for Tshituka (62 ), M van den Berg for Warner, and R Smith for Ntlabakanye (both 64 ), A Coetzee for Pienar and P Jansen van Vuren for PJ Botha (both 66 ).
Referee: Paul Williams (NZR )