Connacht claimed a late victory against Ulster in the first round of the Rainbow Cup, thanks to one of the new law variations introduced for the tournament.
Three new law variations are being trialled in the Rainbow Cup – a red card that allows another player to be substituted for the sent off player after 20 minutes, a goal-line drop out and a captain’s challenge which allows teams to ask the referee to check a specific incident.
Connacht’s skipper Eoghan Masterson used the new captain’s challenge law to great effect last night, as the westerners secured a penalty that led to a last-gasp try for replacement Peter Sullivan.
📢📢📢 ÚÚÚÚÚÚÚÚÚÚÚDDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!! 📢📢📢
Críoch dochreidte drámatúil leis an gcluiche seo agus bua IONTACH do @connachtrugby 💯🟢
— Spórt TG4 🐝 (@SportTG4) April 23, 2021
The referee had originally deemed that Connacht scrum-half Kieran Marmion had knocked the ball on with the clock in the red, which would have ended the game with Ulster three points ahead.
However, Marmion was clearly adamant that a foul had been committed, leading captain Masterson to speak to referee Andrew Brace about the incident.
After referring to his TMO, Brace deemed that Michael Lowry had illegally stripped the ball from Marmion after the tackle had been completed, and awarded a penalty to Connacht.
Late drama seals the win for the westerners.
Connacht turned down the opportunity to secure a draw by opting against taking the three points and instead kicked to touch to secure a lineout deep in Ulster’s territory.
The visitors still had plenty to do to secure the win, and after being given a penalty advantage just metres away from Ulster’s try line, Conor O’Sullivan executed a perfectly-weighted grubber kick for Sullivan who touched the ball down in the corner.
“I think this shows the resilience of our team.”
FT: Ulster 24-26 Connacht.
— eir Sport (@eirSport) April 23, 2021
As the complete fixture list of the Rainbow Cup remains unknown as a result of the South African withdrawal, the win could prove to be absolutely crucial in the one-off tournament.