Guinness Pro12: Connacht 16-11 Newport Gwent Dragons
|Connacht (8) 16|
|Tries: McKeon, Poolman|
|Pens: Leader 2|
|NG Dragons (8) 11|
|Pens: Tovey 2|
Eoin McKeon and Danie Poolman scored the tries as Connacht started their Pro12 campaign with an encouraging victory over the Dragons.
Nic Cudd got a try for the visitors and the sides were tied 8-8 at half-time.
A penalty by Darragh Leader and a fine try by Poolman restored Connacht's eight-point advantage.
The Welsh region could not respond with a try but a 75th-minute penalty by Jason Tovey saw them take a losing bonus point home from Galway.
For Pat Lam's Connacht, it was a welcome boost as they had finished the 2013-14 campaign with five defeats on the bounce.
They were quickest to settle in Saturday's game at the Sportsground and Leader almost put them ahead in the fourth minute when he struck the post from a long-range penalty.
The Dragons were guilty of early mistakes and Connacht hit them on the counter with a free-flowing try.
McKeon was put over by new winger Niyi Adeolokun after young full-back Shane Layden had sparked the attack with a clever dummy and run from deep.
Leader made it 8-0 with a well-struck penalty but the complexion of the game changed during the second quarter as the Dragons began to make headway - although Tovey pulled his first penalty attempt wide in the 21st minute.
Barely two minutes later, the Dragons put good width on the ball to outflank the Connacht defence and debutant Lee Byrne sent flanker Cudd over in the corner.
Connacht's were down to 14 men after Dave McSharry pulled back Jonathan Evans as he took a quick tap penalty.
Tovey knocked the resulting penalty through the posts to equalise before the interval.
Connacht dictated in the third quarter as the Dragons' indiscipline put them under pressure.
Skipper Byrne saw yellow for making contact with Jack Carty in the air and Leader landed the three-pointer to move the hosts back in front.
Morgan followed his skipper off the pitch five minutes later and Connacht scored their second try when Carty's well-weighted kick produced an excellent take and finish by winger Poolman.
Although the Dragons pressed in the dying minutes, a final penalty from Tovey was all they could muster as Connacht deservedly hung on.
Connacht: Layden, Adeolokun, D Leader, McSharry, Poolman, Carty, Porter, Buckley, Heffernan, White, Kearney, Roux, Muldoon, Heenan, McKeon.
Replacements: Nikora for D Leader (69), Finn for Carty (69), Marmion for Porter (54), Henry for Heffernan (78), Ah You for White (63), Faloon for Muldoon (59), Bealham for Heenan (80), Naoupu for McKeon (43).
Dragons: Byrne, Prydie, Morgan, Dixon, Brew, Tovey, J. Evans, Stankovich, Dee, Fairbrother, Landman, Coombs, L Evans, Cudd, Powell.
Replacements: R Jones for Dixon (80), D Jones for Tovey (80), Nightingale for J Evans (80), O Evans for Stankovich (78), R Thomas for Dee (63), Way for Fairbrother (67), Gough for Coombs (61), Faletau for Powell (59).
Sin bin: Byrne (50), Morgan (56).
Ref: Marius Mitrea (Italy).