Connacht wrapped up their pre-Christmas run of fixtures with a disappointing 10 point loss to Leinster in the RDS on Friday night. Connacht were right in the game to the death and were only trailing by three points as the game wound down, but a last gasp try from Leinster winger Zane Kirchner secured the win for Lenister and denied Connacht a deserved bonus point.
Despite the defeat Pat Lam’s side are still sitting in sixth place in the table with six wins, and three defeats and a draw to their name. Their only defeats came at the hands of the sides in the top four of the table. On Friday night (St Stephen’s Day ) Connacht will make the trip to Belfast to take on Ulster in the Kingspan Stadium at Ravenhill hoping to get themselves back in winning ways.
In last Friday night’s game, nine minutes into the game, Shane Jennings crashed over for a try after good work from a line-out after Leinster opted to kick for touch than go for goal, when Connacht were reduced to 14-men after Aly Muldowney was sent to the
sinbin. Jimmy Gopperth kicked wide of the target from the conversion attempt, but he sent over a penalty shortly after to put the hosts into a 8-0 lead.
Jack Carthy had a chance to cut the gap back to five points just after the 20 minute mark, but he skewed his effort wide of the post, but he didn’t fluff his lines the second time around and got Connacht’s first points of the evening. Connacht could have taken another three points five minutes before the end of the half, but they opted to go to the corner and to have a go at working a try. Daine Poolman looked to have got in on the far side after a Carty cross-field kick, but he was adjudged to have put his foot in touch. The next time Connacht got a chance to go for the points, Carty slotted it between the posts and they went in trailing by two points at the break.
Leinster kicked two quick penalties inside the first 10 minutes of the half from Gopperth’s boot despite the hosts being down to 14 at the time to stretch their lead to eight points. Connacht tried to crash their way through the Leinster rearguard for most of the second half, but the blue wall held. With just over five minutes remaining Connacht finally got the break through they were looking for when George Naoupu got over for a try after good work from a line- out mail. Carty was unable to make the conversion and Connacht trailed by three with time ticking down, but it was Kirchner who pounced to cross the white- wash and score the final try of the night, which Gopperth converted to deny Connacht what was at the very least a deserving bonus point loss.
Leinster: R Kearney; Z Kirchner, L Fitzgerald, N Reid, D Kearney; J Gopperth, I Boss; M Bent, A Dundon, T Furlong; D Toner, K Douglas; K McLaughlin, S Jennings, J Heaslip (capt ). Replacements: J Conan; J McGrath; S Cronin; J Murphy; M van Dyk; L McGrath; G D’Arcy. Connacht: M Muliaina; D Poolman, R Henshaw, B Aki, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, T McCartney, R Ah You; Q Roux, A Muldowney; J Muldoon (capt ), E McKeon, G Naoupu. Replacements: W Faloon; D Leader; U Dillane; R Loughney
Ref: Ian Davies (Wales )