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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Bradley bemoans missed chances that cost Connacht

There was pride in defeat for Connacht coach Michael Bradley despite the frustrating nature of his side's 19-12 Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final loss to Toulon.

The French side ended Connacht's seven-match unbeaten run in this season's competition, with 14 points from the left boot of Jonny Wilkinson and a timely try from Mafileo Kefu proving crucial.

Wilkinson suffered an early neck injury but played on to land some telling place-kicks before being substituted on the hour mark.

The May 23 final against Wasps or Cardiff Blues, which will be held in Marseille, will be the England fly-half's first European final after three semi-final defeats with Newcastle.

Three penalties from No10 Ian Keatley had Connacht trailing by 12-9, but a late first-half try from centre Kefu, following a series of reset scrums, gave Toulon a 12-point cushion.

Connacht clawed it back to 19-12 with another Keatley penalty, but Toulon kept their try-line intact and replacement Miah Nikora also missed a long-range penalty for the hosts.

It was a disappointing way for Connacht boss Bradley to bow out, in his final home game in charge of the westerners.

"I think, first of all, it was a great day for Connacht," said Bradley. "The ground and the place and the people -- everything was set up for a famous day. The quality of the opposition shone through in the end. Toulon were well able to sustain the carries that we were attempting on the park. Their defence was strong and they were good in the collisions.

"In cup matches we need to learn at this level to take our chances, and I think we had three or four chances in the second half in particular, five yards from their line, and got nothing out of any of them. That was the game really."

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