Connacht ended a run of five successive Guinness PRO14 defeats as they secured their first win of the season with a 32-10 win over the Southern Kings.
Both sides went into the game searching for their first victory of the new campaign, but it was the home side who enjoyed the brighter start.
The Kings, looking to bounce back from their opening round 57-10 defeat to champions Scarlets last weekend, saw winger Sibusio Sithole sinbinned in the opening ten minutes for dangerous play.
And the Irish outfit capitalised with the extra man as Tom Farrell raced under the posts for his first try of the season before Jack Carty converted.
More pressure on the Kings’ scrum ensured Carty slotted home a penalty to give his side a 10-0 advantage after half an hour.
It was Connaught who showcased more glimpses of expansive rugby, as Yaw Penxe – the historic scorer of the Guinness PRO14’s first try last weekend – could not match the occasional fiery breaks made by opposite man Matt Healy and the physicality of Bundee Aki.
But the South African outfit showed resilience by breaking into the Connacht’s 22 to pull a try back through Berton Klaasen, who showed enough strength to touch down and restore hope for the southern hemisphere newcomers.
But the home side responded almost instantly at the other end, after Carty timed his offload perfectly to find the fresh legs of replacement Eoghan Masterson for a simple try.
Carty added the conversion to restore Connacht’s 12-point lead.
And the home side added a third on the cusp of half-time, when Ultan Dillane charged over to put Connacht in the driving seat at the break with a 24-5 lead.
Connacht started the second half in the same manner they had finished the first, pinning the Kings in their own 22 and were rewarded for their territory through a Carty penalty.
Finlay Bealham saw yellow for a cynical shoulder charge on Masixole Banda, but, as Connacht had done earlier in the game, the Kings could not capitalise on the extra player as Luvuyo Pupuma was held up on the line.
And Kieran Keane’s side ensured they grabbed a much sought after bonus point as the outreached arm of Darragh Leader was enough to beat Masixole Banda and Oliver Zono in the corner with ten minutes to play.
Despite struggling to convert points into possession, the Kings showed glimpses of already acclimatising to life in the northern hemisphere, characterised by the physical strength of Luvuyo Pupuma, who powered over for Deon David’s side late on.
But Zono missed the conversion as the Kings return to South Africa in search of their maiden win.
The Kings will face Leinster in Port Elizabeth on 16 September at the Nelson Mandela Stadium.
Leinster is a quality team that has won the Champions Cup (formerly known as the Heineken Cup) four times including back to back victories in 10/11 and 11/12 seasons.