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Cian Prendergast celebrates. Steve Haag Sports/Steve Haag/INPHO

Tenacious Connacht grind out statement victory against Sharks

Western province hold on for one-point win in Durban.

Sharks 12 

Connacht 13

Mike Greenaway reports from Hollywoodbets Kings Park

CONNACHT WERE AT their tenacious best as they hung in to condemn the Sharks to their fifth consecutive URC defeat in a muggy Durban this evening.

It was primarily a nuggety defensive effort that saw the Irishmen over the line in a tight affair at Hollywoodbets Kings Park.

Summer has arrived on the east coast of South Africa and with a crippling humidity that ensured this was never going to be a high-scoring affair.

joe-joyce-and-finlay-bealham-celebrate-after-the-game Joe Joyce and Finlay Bealham. Steve Haag Sports / Steve Haag/INPHO Steve Haag Sports / Steve Haag/INPHO / Steve Haag/INPHO

Still, the home team began with vigorous intent to move the ball but the organised Connacht defence prevented them from gaining ground, and when the ball went to the visitors for the first time on meaningful attack, they promptly scored when No 8 Sean O’Brien muscled over from close quarters.

Connacht missed just one tackle in the first half.

The Sharks remain bereft of their eight World Cup Springboks and it showed at times in a lack of composure. They certainly struggled in the lineouts, for example, where Eben Etzebeth is conspicuous in his absence in a second row with an average age of 21.

Connacht are without lethal attackers in Bundee Aki and Mack Hansen but they have Finlay Bealham back from World Cup duty and he made a difference in the set scrums.

Six members of the Sharks’ pack are under the age of 24, and they carried the ball with youthful exuberance but wily Connacht campaigners in O’Brien and Conor Oliver were effective at the breakdowns.

scott-fardy-colm-reilly-and-joe-joyce-celebrate-after-the-game Scott Fardy, Colm Reilly and Joe Joyce celebrate after the game. Steve Haag Sports / Steve Haag/INPHO Steve Haag Sports / Steve Haag/INPHO / Steve Haag/INPHO

The Sharks forwards did get it right on the half-hour mark when the former Bok No 8, Sikhumbuzo Notshe barrelled over off a set scrum but the fly-half Curwin Bosch missed the sitter of a conversion attempt and this hurt all the more when, from the kick-off, the Sharks gave away a penalty for JJ Hanrahan to nudge over for a 10-5 lead that would be the halftime score.

Bosch had rushed his kick when the referee had reminded him that he was running out of time on the shot clock.

There was a pivotal moment ten minutes into the second half when Connacht lock Oisin Dowling was sin-binned for a foul in stopping a Sharks attack near the tryline and from the ensuing play, with the Sharks bravely taking a set scrum, right wing Werner Kok was freed for a clear run to the posts.

This time Bosch converted but 15 minutes from time, he tried to counter-attack from inside his half only to be well tackled and Connacht won a penalty from the breakdown. Hanrahan nailed a beauty to inch his team into a winning 13-12 lead.

Bosch was pulled off and on came Boeta Chamberlain and with two minutes he had a chance to win the game for the Sharks but he hooked his attempt across the uprights.


Sharks scorers:

  • Tries:  Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Werner Kok.
  • Conversion: Curwin Bosch


Connacht scorers:

  • Try:  Sean O’Brien 
  • Penalties:  JJ Hanrahan [2]
  • Conversion:  JJ Hanrahan


CONNACHT: Tiernan O’Halloran; Byron Ralson, Tom Farrell [David Hawkshaw, ‘41], Cathal Forde, Andrew Smith [John Porch, ‘41]; JJ Hanrahan, Colm Reilly; Denis Buckley [Peter Dooley. 58], Tadgh McElroy [Dave Heffernan, ‘52], Finlay Bealham [Dominic Robertson-McCoy, ‘58], Oisin Dowling, Joe Joyce, Cian Prendergast [Shamus Hurley-Langton, Conor Oliver (captain), Sean O’Brien.


SHARKS: Aphelele Fassi; Werner Kok, Lukhanyo Am, Francois Venter (captain), Aphiwe Dyantyi; Curwin Bosch [Boeta Chamberlain, ‘69], Cameron Wright; Ntuthuko Mchunu, Dylan Richardson, Coenie Oosthuizen, Corne Rahl, Emile van Heerden, James Venter, Phepsi Buthelezi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe.


Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)

Written by Mike Greenaway and posted on

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