Connacht see off sloppy Sharks in Galway
URC REPORT: Connacht proved they were too strong for an understrength Sharks team in a United Rugby Championship Round 12 clash in Galway on Saturday.
The Irish province outscored their opponents by four tries to two on their way to a 24-12 victory.
The Sharks, who left most of their stars at home, failed to find cohesion in the opening 40 minutes and found themselves 0-19 down at the break.
They did manage to up their game in the final quarter to score two tries but it was not enough against a home side desperate for a win.
It took 20 minutes for Connacht to open the scoring, flank Conor Oliver flopping over from a well-structured driving maul.
They had their second moments later when Mack Hansen chipped over the top for Tom Farrell to take out of the air and find his centre partner Cathal Forde, who managed to dot down.
The ease with which Connacht scored their third try, which came through Tiernan O’Halloran on the stroke of half-time, suggested the Sharks were down and out.
However, they came out with newfound fire and picked up the pace, which forced Shane Delahunt to concede a yellow card three minutes into the half.
Unfortunately for the visitors, though, they were unable to convert their numerical advantage into points.
As soon as they were back to 15 men, Connacht collected the bonus point as Forde charged down Nevaldo Fleurs’ kick for his second try of the night. The relentless Rohan Janse van Rensburg willed his way over in the 60th minute to break the Durbanites’ drought, with replacement Lionel Cronje adding the conversion.
Kerron van Vuuren scored shortly thereafter after a charge down but the try was disallowed upon review as fellow replacement Grant Williams was in front of his hooker when he picked up the loose ball.
As the rain started to bucket down, Bleuler bashed over from short range to have the final say on what was a tough and frustrating night for the game Sharks.
Player of the Match
Connacht centre Cathal Forde produced an eye-catching performance in the win. He scored two great tries and his defensive game was spot on as well.
Play of the Match
Forde’s first try was a thing of beauty with some great interplay in the build-up.
Tries: Oliver, Forde 2, O’Halloran
Cons: Carty 2
Tries: Janse van Rensburg, Bleuler
Yellow card: Shane Delahunt (Connacht, 42′)
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 John Porch, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Cathal Forde, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Jack Carty (captain), 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Darragh Murray, 4 Oisín Dowling, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Tierney-Martin, 17 Jordan Duggan, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Leva Fifita, 20 Cian Prendergast, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Byron Ralston.
Sharks: 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Murray Koster, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Marnus Potgieter, 10 Nevaldo Fleurs, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Celimpilo Gumede, 7 Henco Venter, 6 James Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo (captain), 4 Thembelani Bholi, 3 Carlü Sadie, 2 Fezo Mbatha, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Ockie Barnard, 20 Corne Rahl, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Ethan Hooker.
Referee: Adam Jones (Wales)
Assistant referees: Andrew Cole (Ireland), Robbie Jenkinson (Ireland)
TMO: Wayne Davies (Wales)
Additional source: SA Rugby