Paddy Jackson makes winning return as London Irish make light work of Connacht

Declan Kidney’s side led 26-0 at half-time before sending out a new XV for second half

Connacht 14 London Irish 47

Former Ulster and Irish outhalf Paddy Jackson made a winning return to Ireland when London Irish produced a runaway victory over Connacht in a pre-season encounter at the Sportsground on Friday.

Playing for first time in Ireland since 2017, Jackson kicked three of four first-half conversions to help them to a 26-0 half-time lead in a friendly which welcomed back spectators to the Galway ground for the first time in 18 months.

Connacht did create a host of chances in the first half, but lacked the necessary clinical execution to see them over the line, while also struggling in the lineout. And when the fresh legs of Declan Kidney’s second-half 15 continued the assault, the English Premiership side was able to convert their chances, were dominant at the breakdown, and were stronger on the ball.


They had opened the scoring within two minutes, wingers Kyle Rowe and Ollie Hassell-Collins making distance before a penalty to touch provided the platform. Lock Adam Coleman launched the drive from a lineout before hooker Agustin Creevy claimed the touchdown and Jackson added the sideline conversion.

In a high-tempo game, Connacht were able to match their London opponents for speed, but despite some piercing breaks from number eight Cian Prendergast and scrumhalf Kieran Marmion, accuracy let them down. Conor Oliver was denied an opening try with a knock-on, Tiernan O’Halloran’s effort was contentiously ruled out, Óisín Dowling was stopped short, and O’Halloran was just beaten to the ball by the defence.

Connacht, however, started the second half on the right foot. From a scrum, wing Peter Sullivan and Ben O’Donnell showed great pace before Prendergast crashed over, and Carty added the extras to put their first points on the board.

However, within minutes London Irish were back in control, adding tries form centre Alex Harmes and centre Matt Williams for a 40-7 lead. Although Sullivan added a second Connacht try, there was no stopping Kidney’s charges as fullback James Stokes finished with a flourish.

CONNACHT: T O'Halloran; D Kilgallen, S Bolton, T Daly, J Porch; J Carty (capt), K Marmion; J Duggan, S Delahunt, J Aungier; O Dowling, U Dillane; E Masterson, C Oliver, C Prendergast.

Replacements: N Murray for Dowling (19), D Robertson McCoy for Aungier, C Fitzgerald for Carty, M Burke for Duggan, D Heffernan for Delahunt, C Reilly for Marmion, S Arnold for Daly, B O'Donnell for Porch, P Sullivan for Kilgallen (all h/t), O McNulty for O'Halloran (56,) Daly for Bolton (58), O McNulty for O'Halloran, C Booth for Oliver ,T Daly for Bolton (all 60).

LONDON IRISH: T Parton; O Hassell-Collins, C Rona, T Hepetema, K Rowe; P Jackson, N Phipps; W Goodrick-Clarke, A Creevy, M van der Merwe; R Simmons, A Coleman; M Rogerson, B Donnell, A Tuisue.

Second-half line-up: J Stokes; K Redmond, M Williams, P Cokagnasiga, A Harmes; R Jennings, B White; A Dell, M Willemse, O Hoskins; G Nott, J Cooke; T Pearson, S O'Brien, I Curtis Harris.

Replacements: M Cornish, J Dever, Izzy Moore-Aiono, J Smart, H O'Sullivan, T Smerdon.

Referee: F Murphy (IRFU).