Pro12: Newport Gwent Dragons 8-24 Connacht

Nic Cudd is halted

Connacht boosted their chances of making the cut for next season's revamped top-tier European competition with a bonus-point Pro12 win against Newport Gwent Dragons.

Defeat was also a big blow to Dragons hopes of being in Europe's top-flight in 2014-15.

John Muldoon, twice, and Rodney Ah You went over for Connacht tries before Tom Prydie hitting back.

But Aly Muldowney and Michael Swift went on to cross for the visitors.

Victory sent the Irish province into seventh spot in the table while the Dragons fell back to ninth, although they still have a game in hand over Welsh rivals Scarlets, who lie sixth on 36 points - eight more than the Dragons.

Wing Prydie's 69th-minute touchdown was too little, too late for Lyn Jones' side, whose scrum and line-out were ruthlessly exploited by the visitors in telling fashion during the opening period.

Flanker Nic Cudd cleverly prevented Connacht claiming a pushover try in the 12th minute.

But at the next time of asking flanker Muldoon claimed the opening try after an early Jason Tovey had put the hosts ahead.

Muldoon profited from a scrum drive, prop Ah You also went over from close range while veteran Dragons lock Robert Sidoli was in the sin-bin for illegally taking out a Connacht opponent at a line-out.

Former Scotland fly-half Dan Parks added conversions to both Connacht's first-half tries.

The introduction of out-of-retirement former England prop Duncan Bell amid a Dragons front-row revamp after 29 minutes boosted the home side's efforts.

But even the introduction of Wales and British and Irish Lions number eight Taulupe Faletau early in the second half failed to produce the revival the Dragons truly needed.

After replacement Darragh Leader was sin-binned, the home side were able to work Prydie free.

However, Connacht underlined their dominance with two more close-quarter efforts that added lock Muldowney and replacement lock Swift to the score-sheet.


Newport Gwent Dragons: Daniel Evans; Tom Prydie, Ross Wardle, Jack Dixon, Will Harries; Jason Tovey, Richie Rees; Owen Evans, Hugh Gustafson, Bruce Douglas, Andrew Coombs (capt), Rob Sidoli, Lewis Evans, Netani Talei, Nic Cudd.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Phil Price, Duncan Bell, Matthew Screech, Taulupe Faletau, Wayne Evans, Ashley Smith, Matthew Pewtner.

Connacht: Robbie Henshaw; Tiernan O'Halloran, Eoin Griffin, Dave McSharry, Fionn Carr; Dan Parks, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Jason Harris-Wright, Rodney Ah You; Aly Muldowney, Mick Kearney; John Muldoon (capt), Eoin McKeon, Eoghan Masterson.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Ronan Loughney, Nathan White, Michael Swift, Andrew Browne, Frank Murphy, Miah Nikora, Darragh Leader.

Referee: George Clancy (IRFU, 60th competition game)

Assistant Referees: Neil Hennessy, Simon Rees (both WRU)

Citing Commissioner: Aurwel Morgan (WRU)

TMO: Gareth Simmonds (WRU)