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Page last updated at 19:17 GMT, Friday, 3 April 2009 20:17 UK

Connacht 39-17 Dragons

Connacht (3) 39
Tries: Ofisa, Carr 2, Bibo, Ta'auso Cons: Keatley 4 Pen: Keatley Drop-goal: Keatley

Dragons (10) 17
Tries: Fussell, Lydiate Cons: Tovey, Connor Pen: Tovey

Hugh Gustafson
Prop Hugh Gustafson suffers for the Dragons' cause in Galway

Connacht cut loose in the second half of this Magners League basement battle to romp to a deserved bonus point win over a poor Newport Gwent Dragons side.

A Jason Tovey penalty and a converted Richard Fussell try gave the Dragons a 10-3 lead at the break.

But the hosts raised their game to score three tries in 11 minutes as they went on to record a first victory over Welsh opposition this season.

Tries from Niva Ta'auso and Fionn Carr secured five points for Bradley's men.

That helped confidence spread right through the Connacht side as their minds turned to the European Challenge Cup quarter-final trip to Northampton next week.

The Dragons have only won once in Ireland since October 2004 but they made a promising start with Wales Under-20 starlet Tovey kicking a seventh-minute penalty.


His opposite number Ian Keatley knocked over a drop goal in reply but befitting the sides' positions at the foot of the league table, the quality of play was poor.

The Dragons, with Tom Willis, Luke Charteris and Joe Bearman standing out, looked the more cohesive unit and they gained a decent bit of momentum before speedster Fussell thundered through for his seventh try of the campaign.

Racing to the top of the try-scoring charts, Fussell got the better of three defenders before crossing close to the posts, for Tovey to convert.

Connacht captain John Muldoon and hooker Sean Cronin both went close to scoring tries at the other end, but Paul Turner's side had done enough to warrant a seven-point buffer.

However, the second half produced a complete turnaround. Players like Conor O'Loughlin, the fit-again Ta'auso, out-half Keatley and the heroic Muldoon led from the front as Connacht ended a run of five straight league defeats.

Ta'auso produced a brilliant offload for Gavin Duffy to hare through a gap and put the supporting Ray Ofisa over for a 44th-minute try. Keatley's conversion levelled the game.

With O'Loughlin's swift passing coming to the fore, two more breaks from the influential Duffy and some forward grunt then led to a try for winger Carr in the left corner.

Keatley missed the conversion but he regained his poise to add the extras to a Connacht try in the same corner, with Australian Liam Bibo the scorer after the Dragons rearguard was carved open again.

With their confidence rocketing and memories of last week's heavy defeat in Edinburgh banished, Connacht pressed on with the bonus point within sight.

Their back row destroyed the Dragons, hoovering up a huge amount of ball and Connacht also benefited from a very solid scrum and lineout.

The Dragons looked dangerous with ball in hand - Fussell and Aled Brew particularly - but the hits were coming from Connacht and one huge tackle by Muldoon set up a successful penalty for Keatley.

Ta'auso showed excellent pace to intercept a pass on his 22 and charge through for the bonus-point score before Carr took his league tally to five tries after a pinpoint Keith Matthews pass had unlocked the defence.

The damage was done and Dan Lydiate's late try, converted by replacement Shaun Connor, was only for consolation as Connacht celebrated victory.

Connacht: Duffy; Carr, Ta'auso, Matthews, Bibo; Keatley, Murphy; Wilkinson, Cronin, Loughney, Browne, Farley, J Muldoon, O'Connor, Ofisa.
Replacements: Dunne for Keatley (79), Flavin for Cronin (68), McGovern for Loughney (66), Rigney for Ofisa (79).
Not Used: Swift, O'Loughlin, Nathan.

Newport-Gwent Dragons: Morgan; Fussell, Sidey, Smith, Brew; Tovey, W Evans; Gustafson, Willis, R Thomas, Tomes, Charteris, MacDonald, Parks, Bearman .
Replacements: Connor for Sidey (68), M. Thomas for Tovey (68), N. Hall for Gustafson (55), A. Jones for Tomes (49), Lydiate for Parks (55).
Not Used: S. Jones, R. Lewis.

Att: 1,100

Ref: Neil Paterson (SRFU)

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see also
Dragons sign Kiwi scrum-half Lee
27 Mar 09 |  NG Dragons
Dragons 32-24 Scarlets
26 Mar 09 |  Welsh
Wales prop signs for Scarlets
26 Mar 09 |  Welsh

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