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Friday, 30 August, 2002, 20:22 GMT 21:22 UK
Connacht pip brave Borders
The Borders narrowly lost out in their first Celtic League match
Nicky Walker bursts through the Connacht ranks
Borders 27-28 Connacht

A last-gasp drop goal by replacement stand-off Mark McHugh wrecked the Borders' hopes of launching their Celtic League campaign with a win.

The Scots had looked on course for success at Selkirk after a try double from Cammy Murray, but McHugh had the last say.

Borders had looked the stronger outfit in the nervy opening exchanges - yet found themselves trailing by nine points.

The Irishmen broke the deadlock almost immediately with a penalty from close in by former international stand-off Eric Elwood.

  Match details
Borders (6) 27
Tries: Murray (2)
Cons: Utterson
Pens: Utterson (5)
Connacht (19) 28
Tries: McFarland
Cons: Elwood
Pens: McHugh (2), Elwood (4)
Drop Goals: McHugh
Borders continued to earn the bulk of possession and territory, only for old stager Elwood to slot two more long-range penalties.

Kevin Utterson found his range to get the Borders off the mark - only for Elwood to keep up his fine record at the other end.

The private game of penalty exchanges progressed as Elwood landed number four before the break and there was still time for Welsh referee Nigel Owens to send rival props Paul Thomson and Pete Bracken to the sin-bin.

And there was another major setback for Borders in the dying seconds of the half when substitute prop Dan McFarland powered over, Elwood claiming the extra points.

Borders re-appeared with a more urgent air and clawed back eight vital points.

The Borders lost out narrowly
Matt Taylor struggles to get the ball under control
First, Utterson banged over another penalty - then wing Murray breached the Connacht defence.

The score came when the province was reduced to 13 men, their other prop Ronnie McCormack also being yellow-carded for the latest in a spate of niggles.

Murray then completed his touchdown double to thrill the home fans, with Utterson adding the extra points from the widest possible angle.

Connacht refused to buckle and in the absence of Elwood, McHugh stroked over two penalties with one in reply from Utterson as fortunes swung.

Utterson seemed to have had the decisive strike, gleefully landing his fifth effort - but then came McHugh's stunner.

Borders: Vili, N. Walker, Cranston, Utterson, Murray, Townsend, Armstrong, Thomson, Scott, Douglas, MacLeod, Metcalfe, Rennick, Feather, Sititi.
Replacements: Stuart, Laidlaw, Fairley, Taylor, Stewart, Dunlea, Gunn.

Connacht: McHugh, Robinson, Yapp, T. Allnut, Munn, Elwood, Reddan, McCormack, Uijs, Bracken, Waugh, Frost, Swift, J. O'Connor, Peters.
Replacements: McFarland, Rigney, o'sullivan., Keane, Moore, O'sullivan.

Referee: N Owens (Pontyberem)

The final



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