Fourteen-man Connacht see off Kings
PRO14 REPORT: Connacht kept the pressure on the top three in Conference A with a hard-fought 29-19 victory over the Southern Kings, with the Irish side playing 65 minutes with 14 men.
Early tries from Colby Faing’a and Tiernan O’Halloran saw the visitors 14-0 up within ten minutes, before Peter Robb saw red for leading with a forearm.
Stefan Ungerer and Erich Cronjé’s brace got the hosts in contention in Port Elizabeth, but a resilient second-half performance saw Connacht take the victory, with Jack Carty scoring a crucial try after the break.
The writing looked to be on the wall within the first 60 seconds for the Kings, as Faing’a profited from Ungerer’s fumble on halfway to run in unchallenged and get Connacht off to the perfect start.
And just five minutes later the visitors added their second, as some quick hands from Carty and Kyle Godwin on the Kings’ 22 allowed O’Halloran to break through, before sidestepping two defenders to touch down.
The game-changing moment came after 15 minutes in Port Elizabeth, as substitute Robb was adjudged to have connected with the neck of Howard Mnisi with his forearm, and was given his marching orders.
Things got even worse ten minutes later, as Godwin was shown yellow while trying to stop the unrelenting pressure on their tryline, with Ungerer burrowing over from the ensuing penalty.
The hosts made the most of their time against 13 men, as Cronjé pierced the Connacht defence to level the scores three minutes later, before Carty slotted through a penalty to make it 17-14 to the visitors at the interval.
The Irish side came out after the break rejuvenated, and extended their lead through Carty as the fly-alf crossed in the corner, while Cronjé went over for his second of the game on the hour mark to reduce the arrears back to three.
Connacht continued to dig deep in the last 20 minutes, with an outstanding effort at the scrum to force a penalty try to secure the bonus point, as the Kings struggled to break down the visitors’ defence.
Man of the match – Jack Carty
Carty will deservedly take the plaudits after displaying excellent game management to control the game from the flyhalf position, with a number of well-placed kicks to gain valuable territory.
The 27-year-old also played a pivotal part in O’Halloran’s try, as well as adding a crucial third for his side when the game seemed to be in the balance after the break.
Play of the day
Connacht came out of the blocks flying in this one, and their second try after just six minutes was the pick of the bunch in this one.
Carty and Godwin’s quick hands created the space for O’Halloran, who still had work to do before touching down, but saw off two defenders to with ease to double Connacht’s lead.
For Southern Kings:
Tries: Ungerer, Cronje 2
Cons: Masuke 2
Tries: Fainga’a, O’Halloran, Carty, Penalty Try
Cons: Carty 2
Red card: Peter Robb (Connacht, 16 – foul play, leading into a player with an elbow).
Yellow cards: Kyle Godwin (Connacht 26 – cynical play); Ruaan Lerm (Kings, 70 – repeated infringements, offside); Tom Daly (Connacht, 80 – cynical play, deliberate knock down)
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Chris Hollis, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Erich Cronje, 10 Siya Masuku, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8, Elright Louw, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Lusanda Badiyana, 5 JC Astle (captain), 4 Jerry Sexton, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Alandre van Rooyen, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Robin Stevens, 17 Xandre Vos, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 Bobby de Wee, 20 Ruaan Lerm, 21 Theo Maree, 22 Tiaan Botes, 23 Josiah Twum-Boafo
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 John Porch, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Tom Daly, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Jarrad Butler (captain), 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Paul Boyle, 5 Joe Maksymiw, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Conor Kenny, 19 Eoghan Masterson, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Peter Robb.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Divan Uys (South Africa), Ben Crouse (South Africa)
TMO: Christie du Preez (South Africa)
Main picture: @connachtrugby