Connacht cruised to a 31-14 bonus-point win over the Kings in Port Elizabeth on Sunday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
This was a one-sided affair, and barring two moments of excellence, the Kings were never in it.
Connacht were in control from the outset and their stranglehold on proceedings only strengthened as the game went on. The visitors’ forwards, in particular, bullied the Kings, whose scrum was dismantled with relative ease.
Overall the first half produced more action than the second, with Connacht scoring three tries to lead 24-7 at the break. The second stanza was somewhat subdued as both sides only managed to add one converted try, while making more handling errors.
Connacht were on the attack from the kick-off, and when the Kings were penalised for illegally halting their progress towards the tryline, flyhalf Jack Carty knocked over a penalty. That lead was extended a few moments later when wing Cian Kelleher finished off a well-worked set move which originated from a lineout.
The Kings were starved of possession and when they did get their hands on the ball they couldn’t quite get decent forward momentum. That was until Masixole Banda weaved his magic. The fullback came into the line, and with his first touch danced his way through traffic to score a brilliant solo try before lining up a successful conversion.
Connacht, though, scored two tries in the last three minutes of the first half to take a commanding lead. The first was a penalty try after a monstrous scrum on the 5m line and the second via wing Matt Healy, who finished off a well-executed team effort.
There was a quiet period in the early stages of the second half as neither side managed to retain possession for long enough to make it count.
The Kings struck first through replacement Ntabeni Dukisa, following a storming run by loosehead prop run Lupumlo Mguca and wonderful interplay between the forwards and backs to get the ball wide quickly.
The Kings didn’t wilt under a sustained period of pressure in the final quarter, but ultimately Connacht had the final say as Paul Boyle burst through the fringes of the breakdown area to score their fourth try and secure a crucial bonus point.
Kings – Tries: Masixole Banda, Ntabeni Dukisa. Conversions: Banda (2).
Connacht – Tries: Cian Kelleher, penalty try, Matt Healy, Paul Boyle. Conversions: Jack Carty (2), David Horwitz. Penalty: Carty.
Kings – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Michael Makase, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Martin Du Toit, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Jurie van Vuuren, 6 Cyril-John Velleman, 5 JC Astle (c), 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 2 Alandre van Rooyen, 1 Lupumlo Mguca.
Subs: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Luvuyo Pupuma, 19 Andries van Schalkwyk, 20 Martinus Burger, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa, 23 Tertius Kruger.
Connacht – 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Tom Farrell, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Jarrad Butler (c), 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 James Cannon, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Conor Carey, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Denis Buckley.
Subs: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Peter McCabe, 18 Dominic Robertson McCoy, 19 Gavin Thornbury, 20 Paul Boyle, 21 James Mitchell, 22 David Horwitz, 23 Darragh Leader.
Photo: Connacht Rugby