United Rugby Championship: Connacht 14-38 Lions - Visitors recover from red card to take bonus-point win

Asenathi Ntlabakanye tackles Conor Oliver
Lions' Asenathi Ntlabakanye tackles Conor Oliver of Connacht before receiving a red card

United Rugby Championship: Connacht v Lions

Connacht (7) 14

Tries: Prendergast, Hanrahan Cons: Hanrahan 2

Lions (12) 38

Tries: Horn F 2, Pretorius, van der Merwe, Cronje, van den Berg Cons: Hendrikse 2

The Lions grabbed a stunning bonus-point 38-14 win against a disappointing Connacht in Galway, despite being down to 14 men for over an hour.

Asenathi Ntlabakanye was sent off in the 16th minute for the visitors, who recovered to clinch their first ever win on Irish soil.

Francke Horn (2), JC Pretorious, Edwill van der Merwe, Erich Cronje and Morne van den Berg all crossed for the Lions.

Cian Prendergast and JJ Hanrahan were the try-scorers for Connacht.

The Irish province got off to the worst possible start at the Sportsground, with the visitors scoring the opening try after only seven minutes.

Some sloppy penalties gave the Lions a five-metre line-out and some good hands led to Horn leaping over from close range. Jordan Hendrikse nailed the conversion to give the Lions a perfect start.

As the hosts gained some traction in the game, it was no surprise when they grabbed a try of their own on the quarter of an hour mark.

After some banging on the Lions' door, it was flanker Prendergast who barged over from close range. Hanrahan grabbed an extra two points to make it all square.

The television match official then drew attention to a high tackle from prop Ntlabakanye and referee Craig Evans decided the challenge merited a red card.

The Lions retook the lead on 28 minutes. Pretorius got an armchair ride from a fast-moving rolling maul and touched down unopposed as the 14 men responded in style.

Hendrikse missed with the conversion and the score remained the same until half-time with Connacht having conceded seven penalties in a disjointed performance.

The Lions extended their lead 10 minutes after the restart.

As the home side spread the ball right looking for an overlap, winger Van der Merwe intercepted the ball inside his half and outsprinted the home team's defence for a crucial score. Hendrikse made no mistake from the tee.

Connacht responded with a score by Hanrahan from a well worked move from the base of a scrum inside the Lions' 22. The fly-half dusted himself down to knock over the extras but this would be as close as the Irish province would get to the South Africans.

First, centre Cronje scored a stunning solo try to claim the bonus point, then a second try of the game from Horn as the number eight waltzed in from 15 metres, before substitute Van den Berg finished off an overlap move in the final minute.

The visitors could only grab two of the three conversions but it mattered little as the Lions eased to victory in what was a fantastic performance.

Connacht: O'Halloran; Ralston, Hawkshaw, Forde, Smith; Hanrahan, Blade (capt); Buckley, McElroy, Aungier, Murray, Joyce, Prendergast, Oliver, O'Brien.

Replacements: Heffernan, Duggan, Illo, Murray, Hurley-Langton, Reilly, Carty, Boyle.

Lions: Q Horn; Kriel, Van der Merwe; Cronje, Louw (capt); Hendrikse, Nohamba; Smith, Botha, Ntlabakanye; Oosthuizen, Nothnagel; Pretorius, Tshituka, F Horn.

Replacements: Visagie, Naude, Van Vuuren, Landsberg, Esterhuizen, Sirgel, Van den Berg, Pienaar.