The Isuzu Southern Kings were unable to make the most of their home ground advantage in their Guinness PRO14 clash against Connacht in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, and had to settle for a disappointing 29-19 defeat despite the visitors receiving an early red card.
There was high drama in the first half as Connacht received a red card in the 15th minute and a yellow card early in the second quarter, which saw them being reduced to 13 men for 10 minutes. But despite this, they entered the break 17-14 ahead thanks to an extra penalty goal.
The visitors added their third try early in the second half before being awarded a vital penalty try, which sealed their bonus point, while the Isuzu Southern Kings’ only points in the half were compliments of an unconverted try.
Connacht struck first in the opening exchanges with Colby Fainga’a (looseforward) gathering a loose ball in the air and dashing to the tryline, and they added their second minutes later compliments of Tiernan O’Halloran (fullback), who gathered a sharp inside pass and stepped on the gas to touch down under the posts for a 14-0 lead.
The Isuzu Southern Kings had two opportunities soon after to reduce their deficit on the scoreboard, but they were unable to convert the chances into points.
The visitors were dealt a massive blow in the 15th minute as Peter Robb (replacement winger) received a red card for making contact with Isuzu Southern Kings centre Howard Mnisi’s neck while carrying the ball up-field, and they found themselves down to 13 men in the 26th minute as Kyle Godwin (centre) received a yellow card for failing to get back onside while the home team were on attack in the red zone.
The hosts took full advantage of this with Stefan Ungerer (scrumhalf) scoring their first try from a pick-and-go from the base of the scrum in the 28th minute, and Erich Cronje (winger) followed soon after as he collected a pass in a half-gap dashed to the tryline. The successful conversions levelled the scores.
A penalty goal by Connacht flyhalf Jack Carty on the stroke of halftime, however, pushed the Irishmen into a 17-14 lead going into the break.
Connacht built on this minutes into the second half as Carty dotted down in the corner after some good patience on attack by the team.
The Isuzu Southern Kings, however, added their third try in the 58th minute thanks to well-read skip-pass to Cronje on the short side – which was his second five-pointer of the match.
But the men from Port Elizabeth were cut down to 14 men in the 70th minute as Ruaan Lerm (replacement looseforward) was sent to the sin-bin for infringing close to the tryline, and they found themselves 29-19 down a minute later as Connacht were awarded a penalty try, which sealed their bonus point.
The visitors were again forced to defend with 13 men in the last minute after Tom Daly (centre) received a yellow card for infringing at a ruck close to their tryline, but despite this, the Isuzu Southern Kings were unable to add to their score and had to settle for the 29-19 defeat.
Isuzu Southern Kings 19 (14)
TRIES: Stefan Ungerer, Erich Cronje (2).
CONVERSIONS: Siyabonga Masuku (2).
Connacht 29 (17)
TRIES: Colby Fainga’a, Tiernan O’Halloran, Jack Carty, Penalty Try.
CONVERSIONS: Carty (2).