European Challenge Cup: Enisei-STM 14-31 Connacht

Connacht's Aly Muldowney is tackled by Ramil Gaisin and David Kacharava in Russia
Connacht's Aly Muldowney is tackled by Ramil Gaisin and David Kacharava in Russia
Enisei-STM (0) 14
Tries: Polivalov 2 Cons: Kushnarev 2
Connacht (6) 31
Tries: Adeolokun, Muldoon, Leader, Parata Cons: Leader Pens: McGinty 3

Connacht earned a bonus-point Challenge Cup win against Enisei-STM, who made history by being the first Russian team to take part in European competition.

The Irish side overcame punishing jetlag and bitter cold in Siberia with two AJ MacGinty penalties giving the visitors a 6-0 lead at half-time.

Tries from Niyi Adeolokun, John Muldoon and Darragh Leader saw Connacht pull clear before Andrei Polivanov's try.

Rory Parata clinched the bonus point before Polivanov completed his double.

More than 6,000km from Ireland and with temperatures dropping to -18C (-0.4F), Connacht were forced into a lively start against Enisei.

On his first start for Connacht, USA international fly-half MacGinty kicked two first-half penalties at the snow-powdered pitch of Krasnoyarsk's Central Stadium.

Connacht's replacements take protection from the freezing conditions in Siberia
Connacht's replacements take protection from the freezing conditions in Siberia

MacGinty's Russian counterpart Yury Kushnarev missed an early chance before the American stretched the Irish province's lead with a third penalty in the second period.

Connacht, perhaps better accustomed to the biting cold, then moved up a gear, winger Adeolokun and skipper Muldoon each crossing for tries in two crucial minutes that took the visitors out to a 19-0 lead.

Enisei, spurred on by 4,000 fans in their 25,000-seater stadium, poured into attack, but to no avail against the weakest of the four Irish provinces.

Full-back Leader scored Connacht's third try before replacement prop Polivanov made history when he crossed for Enisei-STM's first try in the 73rd minute.

Kushnarev converted to reduce the arrears, but Connacht bagged a bonus point when Parata went over for the visiting team's fourth try, converted by Leader.

There was time, however, for the home side to have the final word, Polivanov notching up his second try, also converted by Kushnarev as the game wound down.

As the harsh Siberian winter sets in, Enisei will now switch their next two home group games against French club Brive and English side Newcastle Falcons to the considerably warmer climes of the resort city of Sochi, far to the west on Russia's Black Sea coast.

Enisei-STM: Kushnarev, Babaev, Kacharava, Gerasimov, Simplikevich, Gaisin, Baranovs, Bezverkhov, Selskii, Zykov, Saulite, Krasylnyk, Orlov, Temnov, Krotov.

Replacements: Shcherban for Baranovs (41), Polivalov for Bezverkhov (55), Gasanov for Selskii (68), Elgin for Krasylnyk (76), Rudoi for Temnov (73). Not Used: Pronenko, Kuzmenko, Simonov.

Sin Bin: Kushnarev (24).

Connacht: Leader, Parata, Aki, Robb, Adeolokun, A. MacGinty, Porter, Buckley, Delahunt, Bealham, Dillane, Muldowney, Muldoon, Connolly, Naoupu.

Replacements: Ronaldson for Aki (64), Blade for Porter (60), Loughney for Buckley (55), Heffernan for Delahunt (64), O'Donnell for Bealham (67), Qualter for Muldowney (67), O'Brien for Muldoon (57). Not Used: Carty.

Referee: Thomas Charabas (France).

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