Connacht player ratings: Mack Hansen shines in disappointing URC semi-final defeat to the Stormers
Following their 43-25 defeat to the Stormers in the United Rugby Championship (URC) semi-final, here is how we rated the Connacht players in Andy Friend’s final match in charge.
15 Tiernan O’Halloran: Was run over by Angelo Davids in the build-up to Manie Libbok’s first try. He did cover the backfield relatively well and kicked nicely out of hand but didn’t influence the attack as well as he has done in recent matches. 5
14 John Porch: The speedster had some bright moments throughout the game and tried his best to stamp his mark on the fixture, but very little fell in his favour. He made his tackles and was solid enough under the high ball. 6
13 Tom Farrell: Made some crucial interventions defensively, including an intercept with the Stormers attacking dangerously in his side’s 22. He was also one of Connacht’s biggest attacking threats. 6
12 Bundee Aki: The international centre was kept reasonably quiet throughout the game, and his involvements were limited. While he did draw in defenders with his strong carries, overall, the Stormers got the better of him and found gaps in defence between him and Jack Carty. 5
11 Mack Hansen: The speedster started the game superbly with a tremendous goose step and finished well in the corner, helping his side to take a 10-point lead. He was undoubtedly Connacht’s best attacking weapon throughout the game, gaining over 100 metres from his 14 carries. Hansen went looking for work, as per usual, and got around 20 touches as he attempted to steer his side to victory. He did have one or two lapses on defence, but otherwise, it was a good game from the winger. 8
10 Jack Carty: A forgettable performance from the Connacht captain after a great start. His kicking game kept the pressure on the Stormers, and his side capitalised when he threw a super pass out to Hansen to score. However, it started to fall apart for the pivot, who crucially missed two penalty kicks to touch, a conversion and an important tackle that led to Libbok’s first score. 4
9 Caolin Blade: The scrum-half’s service was relatively solid throughout the game, but he had some fragile moments. He was ripped off the ball by Steven Kitshoff, kicked the ball straight out from outside his 22, and luckily got away with a silly pass to Josh Murphy in the build-up to Shamus Hurley-Langton’s try as the lock was not expecting it at all. 5
Another top performance from Hurley-Langton
8 Cian Prendergast: A busy performance from the back-rower who ploughed into the rucks on either side of the ball, but the Stormers managed to limit his impact. It was a lively performance, as we have come accustomed to from him. 6
7 Conor Oliver: A grafting performance from the flanker who was rewarded with a try as he burrowed over the line from close range. He was strong with ball in hand but missed three of his seven tackle attempts. 5
6 Shamus Hurley-Langton: He continued the fine form he displayed in the win over Ulster and was one of Connacht’s standout players in the defeat. Again, he shone at attacking and defensive breakdowns and grabbed a try that looked to spur a comeback in the second half. 8
5 Niall Murray: The top lineout stealer in the URC this season, and he was at his best again today. He put pressure on the Stormers’ lineout throughout and was having a really strong game before being forced off. 6
4 Josh Murphy: A solid display, the second-rower also played his part in applying pressure on the Stormers’ lineout. There was little to fault the lock. 6
3 Finlay Bealham: Put in a strong fight with Kitshoff in the scrum and did concede one penalty at the set-piece but on the whole, he held his own. He was another who kept the pressure on at the breakdown, but it was otherwise a quiet game from the tighthead. 5
2 Dave Heffernan: Another standout from the Connacht pack, Heffernan was accurate at the lineouts and was a good source for front foot ball on attack. He made his tackles on defence before being replaced shortly after the hour mark. 7
1 Denis Buckley: The loosehead was arguably lucky to earn an early penalty that gave Connacht the lead at the scrums and managed to stay in the fight against the far more fancied Frans Malherbe. Overall, it was a solid day at the office for the loosehead without being outstanding. 6
Replacements: Tom Daly and Byrone Ralston made a positive impact on the attack once coming off the bench, as did Kieran Marmion. However, the Connacht defence came apart in the last 10 minutes of the game despite the fresh legs on the pitch, which sealed the match for the hosts.
READ MORE: URC: Five takeaways from Stormers v Connacht as the defending champions storm into the final
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