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Video Highlights – Bulls easily beat Connacht in round 3 of the URC, Connacht remain bottom of the table with zero points.
David Hawkshaw scored Connacht’s second try late in the game but they fell to another defeat in the URC, this time away to Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
Last season’s beaten finalists were 28-0 ahead before replacement tighthead Jack Aungier touched down. And there was still time for the former Leinster out-half to score another try.
But the visitors fell to their third straight defeat of the 2022-23 season, as they continue to languish at the foot of the URC standings.
Connacht actually began well and their attack looked sharper than it had in the previous two weeks. But the early pressure was undone when an erratic pass from John Porch was intercepted by Bulls full-back Kurt-Lee Arendse, who scored under the posts.
Hawkshaw then compounded the error by kicking the ball out on the restart, and two minutes later Bulls broke through again with scrum-half Zak Burger scoring their second try. Connacht were 14-0 in arrears and had a mountain to climb.
Bulls flanker Marco Van Staden saw yellow in the 15th minute and Connacht were still alive in the game but Hawkshaw, who was making his first start in the No 10 shirt, missed a very kickable penalty opportunity.
Bulls finished the half the stronger and their captain, ex-Ulster backrow, Marcell Coetzee powered over from short distance to increase the gap to 21-0.
Burger scored his second try of the match shortly after the break as Connacht began to capitulate while the game got scrappy.
Bulls out-half Johan Goosen was shown a yellow card for a head-to-head collision with Kieran Marmion in the 51st minute and then replacement hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels was also sent to the sin-bin for a late tackle on Hawkshaw, with 15 minutes remaining.
Connacht finally made Bulls pay when Aungier powerfully bowled over off some good forward momentum from Connacht’s pack.
Connacht were denied another effort moments later when Porch was pulled back for a forward pass from Oran McNulty.
However, Hawkshaw gave Connacht hope as he charged down a clearance kick and regained possession to touch down.
There was still a chance of a losing bonus point but the South Africans withstood the late drive and saw the game out to take a bonus point win.
For Connacht, they have yet to register a point on the URC table and the schedule does not get any easier with Munster next up before a clash with Leinster.
Tries: Arendse, Burger (2), Coetzee.
Conversions: Goosen [4/4]
Tries: Aungier, Hawkshaw.
Conversions: Hawkshaw [2/2]
Penalty: Hawkshaw [0/1]
BULLS: Kurt-Lee Arendse; Canan Moodie (Lionel Mapoe 25), Cornal Hendricks, David Kriel, Sbu Nkosi (Chris Smith, 70); Johan Goosen, Zak Burger (Embrose Papier, 61); Gerhard Steenekamp, Johan Grobbelaar (Jan-Hendrik Wessels 25), Francois Klopper (Mornay Smith, 58); Walt Steenkamp (Simphiwe Matanzima, 58) Ruan Nortje; Marcel Coetzee, Marco van Staden (Reinhardt Ludwig, 58), Elrigh Louw.
CONNACHT: Oran McNulty; John Porch, Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Mack Hansen; David Hawkshaw, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley (Peter Dooley, 59), Dave Heffernan (Grant Stewart, 61), Finlay Bealham (Jack Aungier, 59); Leva Fifita (Gavin Thornbury, 52) Oisín Dowling; Josh Murphy (Ciarán Booth, 59), Conor Oliver (Shamus Hurley-Langton, 52), Jarrad Butler.
Referee: Andrea Piardi (FIR).