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Connacht Break Ulster’S Winning Run

Hero of the hour for Connacht was Mark McHugh who produced a magnificent seven out of seven kicks to kill off the challenge of Celtic League leaders Ulster.

Connacht led 15-3 at the break having played with the strong wind, with McHugh finding the range from the ten metre line after nine minutes as the home side pressed from the start.

Seven minutes later McHugh had the large crowd on their feet with a penalty from his own ten metre line which sailed between the posts.

But Connacht also had to defend as Ulster came into the game with a series of forays, one of which yielded a penalty for Adam Larkin after 27 minutes.

However, Connacht finished the half in control with Eric Elwood landing two penalties from as many attempts before McHugh again produced his magic with a penalty on the left-wing near halfway.

Ulster, with the wind now behind them, set about eating into the Connacht lead and while the first few raids were capably dealt with by a spirited Connacht defence, they could do little to prevent Ryan Constable crossing after 47 minutes, with Larkin adding the points to cut the lead to 15-10.

Significantly, it was Connacht whop produced the next score, working their way diligently upfield for Ulster to concede a penalty and McHugh made no mistake into the teeth of the wind.

That left Connacht eight points to the good going into the last quarter, but the margin was again cut to one score when Larkin found the range with eleven minutes left with a penalty from the right.

Two minutes later Ulster must have thought they were heading for their seventh win on the trot when Constable crossed for his second try, with Larkin adding the touchline convert to leave Alan Solomon¹s men 18-20 ahead.

Connacht, far from dropping their heads, showed wonderful spirit and from there to the end nearly all the game was played in the visitors’ half as Connacht refused to die.

Six minutes from time McHugh stepped up to a 35 metres penalty and made a mockery of the wind to dissect the posts to edge his side in front.

Far from sitting on their 21-20 lead, they continued on the offensive and it was again McHugh who put Ulster to sword with another penalty from the right.

Ulster just could not get possession to stage a smash and grab late raid and after former Connacht lock Rowan Frost knocked on under pressure inside his own half, Connacht went for the kill with Matt Mostyn racing through the
cover to touch down under the posts.

McHugh stepped forward and added the conversion for Connacht to close the gap on Ulster at the top to just three points ahead of their Celtic Cup semi-final showdown against Edinburgh at the Sportsground next Saturday.

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