European Challenge Cup: Connacht graft to 22-10 win over struggling Perpignan
|European Challenge Cup, Pool 3: Connacht 22-10 Perpignan|
|Connacht (14) 22|
|Tries: Leader, Aki, Godwin Cons: Horwitz 2 Pen: Horwitz|
|Perpignan (0) 10|
|Try: Leiataua Con: Bousquet Pen: Bousquet|
Connacht maintained their European Challenge Cup hopes as they grafted to a 22-10 win over struggling Perpignan in a wet and windy Galway.
Tries from Darragh Leader and Bundee Aki helped Connacht lead 14-0 at half-time after they had played with a strong wind advantage.
A David Horwitz penalty extended the lead but Manu Leiataua 65th-minute try left only seven between the teams.
But Leiataua's sin-binning was the punished by Kyle Godwin's late try.
Replacement hooker Leiataua received his yellow card for dissent in the 70th minute and it helped ease the pressure on the home side after Perpignan looked to have the momentum in the contest.
Helped by the man advantage, Connacht broke upfield to notch the the clinching score four minutes from time as replacement centre Godwin touched down.
Perpignan's other five second-half points came from the boot of full-back Jonathan Bousquet.
As Aki joined his fellow Ireland players Quinn Roux and Finlay Bealham in returning for the home side, Matt Healy was the only Connacht survivor from last weekend's win over Cheetahs in South Africa.
Perpignan, 11 points adrift at the bottom of the Top 14 table after a disastrous start to their campaign, also only retained centre Pierre Lucas from their defeat by Bordeaux last weekend.
Former Ulster player Paddy Jackson was among the Perpignan regulars who did not make the trip to Ireland.
Connacht's win moves them to eight points in Pool 3 after three games although they remain two point behind leaders Sale who face Bordeaux in France later on Saturday.
Connacht: D Leader; C Kelleher, K Joyce, B Aki, M Healy; D Horowitz, J Mitchell; P McCabe, D Heffernan (capt), F Bealham, J Maksymiw, Q Roux, E Masterson, C Fainga'a, J Connolly.
Replacements: S Delahunt, M Burke, D Robertson-McCoy, G Thornbury, P Boyle, C Blade, C Fitzgerald, K Godwin.
Perpignan: J Bousquet; T Fainga'anuku, P Lucas, P Marty, E Sau; E Selponi, S Degmache; Q Walcker, R Carbou, N Lemaire, Y Vivalda, B Botha, J van Heerden, P Reynaud, M Faleafa.
Replacements: M Leiataua, K Tougne, S Charlet, A Roussel, E Iachizzi, T Ecochard, A Taumoepeau, J Farnoux.
Referee: Karl Dickson (RFU)