Connacht 34 Bulls 7
A stunning Mack Hansen solo run sealed Connacht’s opening win of the season as Andy Friend’s side seized control of this encounter either side of half-time to atone for a horror opening.
Narrowly leading 10-7 at the break, Tom Daly added to Tiernan O’Halloran’s first-half effort before Hansen’s slaloming effort had the 3,000 returning faithful spilling their beers in frothy delight to end what had been an edgy contest by the 48th minute
The heavy spill of late rain hindered the quest for a bonus but some lovely hands from the half-backs opened a yawning gap for Tom Farrell to seal the five points before Daly completed a double in the final play.
It had seemed an age since his side’s sloppy first lines when Lizo Gqoboka grounded the ball after a catalogue of errors.
A rumbling maul that produced their levelling try in the 16th minute boosted their morale, O’Halloran with the flourish and finish.
Connacht edged ahead with a penalty before the break after Cian Prendergast was held up.
The Bulls were lining up their big boys but couldn’t add the craft to graft; Harold Vorster was downed and O’Halloran thieved; the Clan Terrace whooped a throaty roar as if their side had seized a score rather than merely denied one as the Bulls came away empty-handed once again.
Daly was the ultimate beneficiary but their forwards delivered him the bounty with some impressive surges close in, captain Jarrod Butler eschewing a three-pointer to tap and go and seize the jugular.
Carty’s extras made it 17-7 and the game was almost cooked; Hansen added the sizzle.
His scintillating intervention, winding and weaving his way this way and that from deep inside his own half on the left touchline, finishing his Odyssean journey somewhere in the middle of Eyre Square.
As Bismarck Du Plessis rumbled on, suddenly a bonus point win was up for grabs. Connacht took that too.