Connacht serve Kings with a cold defeat
PRO14 REPORT: Ireland side Connacht got their Pro14 campaign back on track with a 32-10 win over the struggling South African side the SOuthern Kings.
Both sides went into the game still searching for their first victory of the new campaign, but it was the home side who enjoyed the brighter start.
The Kings, looking to bounce back from their opening round 10-57 defeat to champions Scarlets last weekend, saw wing Sibusio Shithole sinbinned in the opening ten minutes for dangerous play.
And the Irish outfit capitalised with the extra man as Tom Farrell raced under the posts for his first try of the season before Jack Carty converted.
More pressure on the Kings’ scrum ensured Carty slotted home a penalty to give his side a 10-0 advantage after half an hour.
It was Connaught who showcased more glimpses of expansive rugby, as Yaw Penxe – the historic scorer of the PRO14’s first try last weekend – could not match the occasional fiery breaks made by opposite man Matt Healy and the physicality of Bundee Aki.
But the South African outfit showed resilience by breaking into the Connacht’s 22 to pull a try back through Berton Klaasen, who showed enough strength to touch down and restore hope for the southern hemisphere newcomers.
But the home side responded almost instantly at the other end, after Carty timed his offload perfectly to find the fresh legs of replacement Eoghan Masterson for a simple try.
Carty added the conversion to restore Connacht’s 12-point lead.
And the home side added a third on the cusp of half-time, when Ultan Dillane charged over to put Connacht in the driving seat at the break with a 24-5 lead.
The western province started the second half in the same manner they had finished the first, pinning the Kings in their own 22 and were rewarded for their territory through a Carty penalty.
Finlay Bealham saw yellow for a cynical shoulder charge on Masixole Banda, but, as Connacht had earlier in the game, the Kings could not capitalise on the extra player as Luvuyo Pupuma was held up on the line.
And Kieran Keane’s side ensured they grabbed a much sought after bonus point as the outreached arm of Darragh Leader was enough to beat Masixole Banda and Oliver Zono in the corner with ten minutes to play.
Despite struggling to convert points into possession, the Kings showed glimpses of already acclimatising to life in the northern hemisphere, characterised by the physical strength of Luvuyo Pupuma, who powered over for the Deon David’s side late on.
But Zono’s missed the conversion as the Kings return to South Africa in search of their maiden win.
Tries: Farrell, Masterson, Dillane, Leader
Cons: Carty 3
Pens: Carty 2
Tries: Klaasen, Pupuma
Yellow Cards: Sibusiso Sithole (Southern Kings, 11-dangerous play), Finlay Bealham (Connacht, 52- shoulder charge), John Muldoon (Connacht, 75 - shoulder charge)
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Darragh Leader, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 James Cannon, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Denis Coulson, 18 Conor Carey, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Eoghan Masterson, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Steve Crosbie, 23 Eoin Griffin.
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Sibusiso Sithole, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Victor Sekekete, 6 Khaya Majola, 5 Dries van Schalkwyk, 4 Jurie van Vuuren, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Michael Willemse (captain), 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Luvuyo Pupuma, 18 Entienne Swanepoel/Martin Dreyer, 19 Bobby de Wee, 20 Siyabulela Mdaka, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Oliver Zono, 23 Jacques Nel.
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Keith Allen (Scotland), Joy Neville (Ireland)
TMO: Neil Paterson (Scotland)