Connacht Juniors take on Leinster in the second junior interprovincial rugby fixture at Creggs on Saturday (2.30pm ) in the hopes of re-staking a claim for this year’s title.
A poor first half in last week’s opener to Ulster proved decisive as they unexpectedly went down by 34 - 23, while defending champions Leinster drew 15-15 with Munster.
Having won the corresponding game last year, and with a strong 2010 squad, Connacht were looking to win on the road and build a base to go one better than the second place in last year’s championship.
Despite a promising start, which saw them camped on the Ulster line for the opening 15 minutes, Connacht were hit with a breakaway try after 20 minutes when Ulster flanker Stephen Dickey finished off a move to score under the posts with outhalf Martin Irwin converting.
Worse followed when a quick tap penalty on the half-way line caught the Connacht defence napping and full back Andrew Kennedy scored with Irwin once again adding the extras.
Connacht, chasing the game, opened their scorng with a Ger O’Connor penalty, but Irwin replied,before O’Connor added a second penalty which left the score 17–6 at half time.
Connacht, needing a scoring start to the second half, instead conceded a try when Ulster exploited poor Connacht tackling, and although the Connacht scrum and lineout was rock solid, defensive errors were costly as Irwin grabbed another Ulster try.
Connacht, with their replacements on the field, did stage a late rally. Their dominance in the scrum began to tell and throwing caution to the wind Connacht started to show what they were capable of. Sligo’s Farringdon finished off an excellent passing move to score the first try which was converted by clubmate Paddy Pearson after 65 minutes. Just two minutes later the same two players combined to score again when a slick back pass from Pearson sent Farringdon over again in the corner, with Pearson just missing the conversion. This left the score at 34 – 18. Tuam’s Mike Ward finished off a forward’s move to score a third try, but it came too late to affect the result.
Connacht: K Higgins (Capt ), K Corcoran, D Prior, J Culkin, T Lee, G O’Connor, B Leahy, A Bane, M Lee, T Toolan, W Parker, T McAuliffe, E Rooney, E Murphy, A McNulty. Subs: M Ward, K. Cox, A McHale, J Farringdon, P Pearson, M Murphy, D Gerrity.