CONNACHT 32 - SOUTHERN KINGS 10: Connacht coach Kieran Keane was the first to admit that facing newcomers the Southern Kings so early in the season was a welcome gift but he feels the bonus point win secured on Saturday night will propel his new side.
The Kings, having retained just a handful of players in the turmoil which ensued after their Super Rugby campaign, are struggling to make an impact in the PRO14 but they will undoubtedly improve as a unit.
“I’m grateful to get them this early,” admitted Keane. “They can run like rabbits, they are big and skillful men so we are happy to get them out of the way. They are underdone, particularly around their set-piece and some things went array for them. They are a very talented group and they will bring a fair bit of excitement once they hit the ground and once they get themselves together.”
Connacht, having lost at home to Glasgow first time out, were much improved in the opening half and had three tries on the board when they turned around leading 24-5 at the interval.
Connacht’s set-piece, particularly their scrum, was much improved from the Glasgow loss, and Keane took encouragement from the way they did not panic when searching for the bonus point.
“It was pretty good and we didn’t want to turn it into a festival and we made mention of that at half-time. We wanted to tighten it up and it became a little bit messy for various reasons but we have come out of it okay.”
A shoulder injury to flanker Sean O’Brien is the only injury concern after a game which was decided in the manner Connacht responded to the opening try from the Kings eight minutes from the break.
Connacht were leading 10-0 thanks to a try from Tom Farrell when Kings centre Berton Klaasen got over but Eoghan Masterson hit back with a try and then Irish lock Ultan Dillane burst over to make it 24-5 at the interval. The bonus point eventually came when Darragh Leader, back to his best after a lengthy injury saga, did superbly to score in the right corner to complete a good night.
T O’Halloran; D Leader, T Farrell, B Aki, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, T McCartney, F Bealham; U Dillane, J Cannon; S O’Brien, J Butler, J Muldoon.
E Masterson for O’Brien (31), D Coulson for Buckley (50), D Heffernan for McCartney (53), S Crosbie for Carty (55), Q Roux for Dillane (55), C Carey for Leader (55-62), C Blade for Marmion (58), E Griffin for Farrell (64).
M Banda; Y Penxe, B Klaasen, L Vulindlu, S Sithole; K Coleman, G Masimla; S Ferreira, M Willemse, R de Klerk; J van Vuuren, D van Schalkwyk; K Majola, V Sekekete, A Ntsila.
E Swanepoel for de Klerk (42), L Pupuma for Swanepoel (48), O Zono for Coleman (53), R van Rooyen for Masimla (53), S Mdaka for Majola (62), J Nel for Vulindu (64), B de Wee for Sekekete (68), S Coetzee for Willemse (74).
Mike Adamson (SRU)
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