Connacht 21-17 Brive

Ben Marshall touched down in his first start for Connacht as the westerners withstood a late surge to stay top of Pool 1 in the Challenge Cup with a win over Brive.

Pat Lam's side took a while to get going, back home from Siberia in the slightly warmer Sportsground, but it is now two wins from two in Europe after Connacht’s nightmare return from Enisei-STM this week.

That means eight wins from nine so far this season, as Lam’s men enter their inter-pro derby with Munster full of confidence and top of the Pro12.

However, a suspected knee ligament injury to Nepia Fox-Matamua could cost them in next week's top of the table clash with the Munster men.

Rory Parata crossed the whitewash for his second try in two weeks and Kieran Marmion dotted down as Connacht built on their 11-5 half-time lead.

Thomas Acquier, Benito Masilevu and Sevenaia Galala were the try-scorers for the visitors to ensure they left Galway with a losing bonus point.

Full back Romain Sola was stand-in kicker for Brive, and by the half-hour mark he had already missed three gilt-edged opportunities.

The latter was a conversion, Brive crossed the whitewash after 29 minutes when hooker Acquier dived after a rolling maul.

That was justification for their hard work, and although Sola missed the relatively easy conversion they led 5-0.

That seemed to galvanise Connacht – in the 33rd minute they won a penalty inside the Brive 10-metre line and Carty converted.

Then a massive hit from Adeolokun gave Connacht the platform for their next try. Carty kicked for the corner, Marshall claimed the line-out, and Parata collected the cross-field kick to touch down.

Carty missed the conversion but slotted another penalty before the break as his side took an 11-5 lead into half-time.

Bundee Aki nearly pounced after the break when he way set up by Fox-Matamua, and Tiernan O’Halloran was held up after that.

Marshall got his try in the 45th minute, but Masilevu cancelled that out straight away. However again their kicker missed the conversion.

Marmion sealed it for the hosts with their third try, and even though Galala crossed late on Connacht had done enough.

Scorers – Connacht: R Parata, B Marshall, K Marmion tries; J Carty 2 pens. Brive: T Acquier, B Masilevu, S Galala tries; Tiribaren con.

Connacht: T O’Halloran; R Parata, R Henshaw, B Aki, N Adeolokun; J Carty, K Marmion; R Loughney, J Harris-Wright, N White; B Marshall, A Browne; E Masterson, N Fox-Matamua, E McKeon.

Replacements: D Heffernan for Harris-Wright (28-38 mins), D Qualter for Marhshall (48), F Bealham for White (51), C Ronaldson for Aki (51) D Heffernan for Fox-Matamua (62), G Naoupu for McKeon (62), I Porter for Marmion (64), C O’Donnell for Loughney (72), Loughney for Browne (73).

Brive: R Sola; M Bakaniceva, B Petre, C Tuatara, B Masilevu; M Ugalde, J B Pejoine; D Lavergne, T Acquier, K Buys; J Snyman, W Steenkamp; H Briatte, P Luafutu, W Whetton.

Replacements: A Mafi for Sola (40 mins), G Ribes for Acquier (48), G Shvelidze for Lavergne (48), G Jgenti for Buys (48), S Hireche for Whetton (48), S Galala for Bakaniceva (52), T Iribaren for Mafi (54), V Lebas for Steenkamp (72).

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England).