Bundee Aki celebrates new deal with a try

Ireland centre scores on first Pro14 match of the season for Connacht after extending contract

 Connacht’s Bundee Aki scores the first  try. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Connacht’s Bundee Aki scores the first try. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

Connacht 24 Southern Kings 12

Bundee Aki celebrated his three-year IRFU contract extension with the opening try in Connacht’s 24-12 Pro14 win over the Isuzu Southern Kings at the Sportsground.

It was three tries-to-two at the end of a fast-paced first half, with Connacht leading 19-12 thanks to efforts from Aki, Finlay Bealham and Australian Sevens international John Porch. Erich Cronje and Scott Van Breda struck back for the visitors.

Replacement Ruaan Lerm produced an all-action display as the Kings looked to add to their recent historic victory away to the Ospreys. But Connacht sewed up the result when winger Porch dived over to complete his brace in the 42nd minute.

In their final match of the calendar year, the Kings were unable to turn their early pressure into points and Aki, whose new deal was announced yesterday, swooped for the opening 12th-minute score. He joined a lineout maul near the left corner and found a gap to crash over, with man-of-the-match Conor Fitzgerald converting.

Connacht’s John Porch celebrates scoring a try with Matt Healy and Kyle Godwin. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Connacht’s John Porch celebrates scoring a try with Matt Healy and Kyle Godwin. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Stefan Ungerer’s flat pass sent centre Cronje crashing over for a 17th-minute leveller, which needed confirmation from TMO Wayne Davies. The Kings almost handed those points back from a kick blocked by Porch, but Kyle Godwin’s pass to Matt Healy did not go to hand.

But Connacht took charge with two tries in three minutes near the half-hour mark. Prop Bealham plunged over from another well-executed maul, before Fitzgerald converted Porch’s first try for the Irish province, which was set up by a brilliant break from halfway involving Fitzgerald, Colby Fainga’a and Aki.

Trailing 19-7, the South Africans snapped back with a try just before the break. Invited forward courtesy of a clutch of penalties, excellent hands from Ungerer and Aston Fortuin allowed full-back Van Breda to canter over from close range but he missed the conversion this time.

The Connacht backs clicked for an almost immediate try on the resumption. Quick ball from a lineout on the right was transferred across to the opposite wing and Porch did really well to hold onto Healy’s high pass and dart over from the edge of the visitors’ 22, opening up a double-scores lead.

The final half an hour was scrappy with a lot of back-and-forth exchanges. The Kings were unable to capitalise on a Theo Maree break from deep, while Connacht, who have jumped back to second place in Conference B, will be keen to cut down on the errors heading into their Champions Cup double header with Gloucester.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.