An error-ridden match in Galway finishing with a beautiful flourish on Saturday when Connacht stitched together a 19-phase Hail Mary play to snatch a Heineken Champions Cup victory from the jaws of defeat.
It was an incredible sweep from their own 22 to score, all 15 of their players handling at some stage in the 140-second play that featured 34 passes and 18 carries to the ruck before Robin Copeland touched down for the converted try that grabbed an unlikely 27-24 win.
Trailing 13-24 with time running out, Connacht had looked beaten after Gloucester celebrated scoring a bonus point fourth try on 69 minutes.
Even when Shane Delahunt touched down for a converted score on 77 minutes, a few minutes after the Cherry and Whites have been reduced to 14 players due to a sin-binning for Lewis Ludlow, it appeared as it was a consolation score that would only earn the hosts a losing bonus point.
However, what unfolded after Gloucester launched a restart kick on 78:13 was remarkable as Connacht, who previously had been very prone to a series of sloppy handling errors, were suddenly glue-like on the ball.
(Continue reading below…)
It was a catch under the dropping ball by replacement Tom Daly that set in train the sequence that ended with Gloucester distraught and beaten behind their own posts.
Eighty-seven seconds and a dozen phases were retired to Connacht to move possession from their 22 into opposition territory, Copeland popping up on the touchline to carry over the halfway line.
And that's why we love it ??
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 14, 2019
From there, another 53 seconds and seven phases were to pass before the try scored, Daly pitching up to handle for his fourth time in the move, taking a two-man tackle at the 22-metre line and offloading out of the contact to send Copeland galloping over.
The score was checked by the officials but was give the all-clear and further salt was rubbed into the Gloucester wound, Conor Fitzgerald landing the conversion to the roars of approval of a delirious home attendance.
This place has gone bananas!
Just sensational lads!! As you can see our hands are still shaking ?? pic.twitter.com/7JfQU1YLc0
— Connacht Rugby (@connachtrugby) December 14, 2019
WHAT ALL 15 PLAYERS DID ON THE BALL
Stephen Kerins – 16 passes
Conor Fitzgerald – 6 passes, 1 carry to ruck
Shane Delahunt – 1 pass, 4 carries to ruck
Tom Daly – 3 passes, 1 carry to ruck
Jack Carty – 3 passes
Bundee Aki – 3 carries to ruck
Kyle Godwin – 1 pass, 2 carries to ruck
Jarrad Butler – 2 carries to ruck
Robin Copeland – 1 carry to ruck, 1 carry to score
Ultan Dillane – 1 pass
Finlay Bealham – 1 pass, 1 carry to ruck
Denis Buckley – 1 pass, 1 carry to ruck
John Porch – 1 pass
Eoghan Masterson – 1 carry to ruck
Niall Murray – 1 carry to ruck
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