Connacht punish sloppy Kings
PRO14 REPORT: John Porch scored two tries as Connacht moved to within a point of Conference B leaders Munster with a hard-fought 24-12 victory against the Southern Kings.
The Australian wing crossed once in each half, while further scores from Bundee Aki and Finlay Bealham settled a bonus-point win.
The Kings stay bottom of the Conference with just a single win this season, but they impressed at the Sportsground and scored two tries through Erich Cronje and Scott van Breda.
Connacht, who arrived with four wins from six league games, started impressively, with Ireland international centre Aki powering over in the 12th minute.
But the Kings, filled with confidence from securing their first-ever Pro14 away win at Ospreys last time out, hit back as centre Cronje wrestled his way over four minutes later.
However, Connacht boasts great forward power and they moved back ahead mid-way through the first half thanks to tries from prop Bealham and wing Porch.
The Kings hit back on the stroke of half-time through fullback Van Breda, who only joined on loan from Worcester Warriors this week.
After camping near the Connacht line, the Kings moved right and Van Breda dotted down after stepping up to collect a flat pass.
Connacht strengthened their advantage early in the second half, as Conor Fitzgerald and Aki combined to release Porch, who sprinted in for his second try in the corner.
No more points were scored in a lacklustre second half but that won’t matter to the hosts, who got the job done.
MAN OF THE MATCH
John Porch underlined just why Connacht decided to take him to Galway. With two predatory tries, the wing made the difference as the Irish province once again showed how dangerous they will be this season.
But the star man was fly-half Conor Fitzgerald, who pulled the strings all night. The No.10 helped set up Porch’s second try, showed bravery to deliver flat passes at the gainline and was defensively stable.
PLAY OF THE DAY
Porch has pace to burn and his second try was a thing of beauty. Fitzgerald fired a pass into Aki, before wrapping around to collect the return.
A couple of passes later, the ball reached Porch on the left wing – the No.11 straining every sinew to pluck it out of the sky – before he pressed the accelerator and dived over in the corner.
Tries: Aki, Bealham, Porch 2
Cons: Fitzgerald 2
For the Southern Kings:
Tries: Cronje, Van Breda
Con: Van Breda
Connacht: 15 Matt Healy, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 John Porch, 10 Conor Fitzgerald, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Paul Boyle, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Eoghan Masterson, 5 Quinn Roux (captain), 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Matthew Burke, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Joe Maksymiw, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Angus Lloyd, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Peter Robb
Southern Kings: 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Christopher Hollis, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Howard Mnisi (captain), 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 JT Jackson, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Jerry Sexton, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Juan Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Xandre Vos, 18 De-Jay Terblanche, 19 Bobby de Wee, 20 Ruaan Lerm, 21 Theo Marais, 22 Siya Masuku, 23 Sibusiso Sithole
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland), Aled Evans (Wales)
TMO: Wayne Davies (Wales)