Connacht 18-27 Bristol Rugby, The Sportsground
Bristol Bears managed to hold off Connacht in a closely fought Heineken Champions Cup as they registered a 18-27 win at The Sportsground.
This is Bristol's first win in the tournament as they move to sixth place in Pool B while Connacht's second defeat see them positioned 10th.
The first points in the game came in the 35th minute when Bryan Byrne powered over the line at the back of a rolling maul. Callum Sheedy missed the conversion but a penalty kick from Jack Carty at the stroke of half-time ensured the teams headed into the break with a 3-5 scoreline.
The start of the second half saw Connacht reduced to 14-men temporarily with Bundee Aki sin-binned and Bristol made full use of the numerical advantage with back to back tries from Ed Holmes and Piers O'Conor with Sheedy improving both making the scoreline 3-19.
Connacht soon hit back through Tiernan O’Halloran's try and Jack Carty's conversion reduced the arrears by nine points and Bristol had a late scare with Siale Piutau yellow-carded for a deliberate knock on with Carty slotting a simple penalty goal making it 13-19 heading into the final 10 minutes of the game.
Replacement Ioan Lloyd provided the visitors with hope stretching their lead to 11 points when he dived in the corner in the 71st minute but his effort was cancelled with John Porch's try for Connacht which did not quite prove enough allowing Pat Lam's side to complete a nine point victory.
Team line up:
Connacht: Porch; Wootton, Aki, Arnold, Healy; Carty, Marmion; Buckley, Heffernan, Bealham, E Masterson, Dillane; S Masterson, Oliver, Boyle.
Reserves: Delahunt, Duggan, Aungier, Prendergast, Butler, Blade, Daly, O'Halloran.
Bristol: Malins; Naulago, O'Conor, S Piutau, Leiua; Sheedy, Randall; Woolmore, Byrne, Sinckler, Attwood, Holmes; Luatua (capt), Earl, Hughes.
Reserves: Capon, Lahiff, Afoa, Joyce, Thomas, Uren, Lloyd, Adeolokun.