After missing an easier shot off the post, Jack Carty kept his composure and landed the decisive penalty from the right with two minutes remaining to secure a great win at Ellis Park.
onnacht is now set for a clean win over the South African sides in the first URC, while Andy Friend is looking to end a disappointing season on high.
Connacht got off to a glorious start, racing to a 14-0 after just nine minutes at Ellis Park as they took the game to the Lions from the start.
Impressive in his new role at full-back, Mack Hansen made an immediate impact when Connacht took a penalty and took the corner. He broke and linked with scrum half Caolin Blade to send Cian Prendergast over for a try after just two minutes. Jack Carty added the easy conversion.
Blade and Hansen were again key in Connacht’s second try, they made hard yards with Paul Boyle resulting in a couple of penalties to touch and Welsh referee Craig Evans acted quickly to penalize the Lions, missing a penalty attempt and throwing the Nerd Ruan Dreyer for murdering Ball Ball.
But Connacht didn’t let the extra man count and after losing an alley through another penalty in the right corner, they lost that ten-minute ban 3-0 when Jordan Henrikse hit the Löwen with a penalty off the post after 18 minutes.
Hooker Dave Heffernan knocked in the tackle as he headed for the line after a good build-up, while at the other end Hendrikse swerved three points from the post but then dead-kicked the ball as he aimed for the left corner.
But they fought back, closing the gap to 14-8 at the break when winger Ratz Maxwane came on just before the break.
Carty added two penalties either side of Hendrikse in the third quarter before the Lions recovered when scrum half Morne van der Berg tapped a penalty and made a converted attempt to close the gap to 20-18 after 55 minutes.
Hendrikse missed a penalty before Carty landed one and then a fine work from Bundee Aki set up his center partner Tom Daly for a converted attempt to take a 30-18 lead in the final 18 minutes.
But the Lions didn’t let up, scoring in the left corner with two attempts from Edwin van der Merwe, and ten minutes from time they equalized again when Burger Odendaal broke through and Hendrikse converted it to 30:30.
However, Connacht had the last word as Carty regained his composure to land the winner from the right wing after missing from the post to secure a superb win.
Goalscorers: Lions: Attempts: R Maxwane, M van der Berg, E van der Merwe, B Odendaal. Cons: J Hendrikse (2). Pens: Hendrikse (2)
Connacht: Attempts: C Prendergast, T Daly, penalty try. Cons: J Carty (2). Pens: Carty (4).
Lions: Q-Horn; Maxwane R, Simelane W, Odendaal B, van der Merwe E; J. Hendrikse, M. van der Berg (A Warner 64); S Sithole (JP Smith 47), PJ Botha (Visagie 57), R Dryer (C Sadie 47); R Schoeman (R Venter 60), R Nothnagel; G Horn, V Tshituka, E Tshituka (J Visagie 11-19).
Connacht: M Hansen; J Porch, B Aki (S Bolton 18-28), T Daly, A Wootton; J Carty, C Blade (K Marmion 70); D Buckley (J Duggan 60), D Heffernan (D Tierney-Martin 60), J Aungier (G McGrath 46); O Dowling (L Fifita 50), N Murray; C Prendergast, J Butler, P Boyle (C Oliver 50).
Referee: Craig Evans (Wales).
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/pro14/jack-carty-nails-winning-kick-as-connacht-start-south-africa-trip-with-win-over-the-lions-41580709.html Jack Carty nails the winning goal as Connacht kick off with a win over the Lions in South Africa