Bundee Aki and Mack Hansen hoping to wave 'night, night' to Stormers next
"Bundee was getting some abuse."
It was not the greatest night, on the attacking from, for Bundee Aki or Mack Hansen but, like the rest of their Connacht teammates, they dug deep, made big plays in defence and hounded Ulster to within an inch of their lives.
Connacht were in the depths of their season when they lost a home URC match to Connacht, a couple of days before Christmas, then got bounced 41-12 by Leinster at The RDS. They were showing flashes and having purple patches but knock-out rugby and Champions Cup qualification seemed beyond their reach.
They then reeled off six league wins in a row and got a bonus point in a valiant but losing effort to Glasgow that made Champions Cup rugby all but certain. That possibility became a certainty when Leinster dusted Sharks, on Saturday. The night before, though, Andy Friend's side did what they had to do and beat Ulster.
There were scenes of unbridled joy and raw passion when the final whistle shrilled in Belfast, that night, and both Bundee Aki and Mack Hansen's post-match celebrations were picked up on.
On House of Rugby [LISTEN from 7:20 below] those celebrations of Aki and Hansen, as well as an in-depth look at Connacht's big win in Belfast, were delved over.
Bundee Aki waves goodbye to Ulster
Connacht led 12-3 at one stage of the second half but it got squeaky in the final quarter when Alan O'Connor crossed for a converted try. In the end, though, a Jack Carty penalty [his fifth of the night] and stout Connacht defence saw the 2016 PRO12 champions home.
"Did you see, at the end, Bundee Aki and a few others cheering into the crowd?" asked Greg O'Shea.
"Bundee was getting some abuse," said Lindsay Peat, "and I think he was saying go to sleep, night, night."
"Bundee was getting stuck into the crowd," O'Shea added. "Mack Hansen was even shouting at the crowd."
Indeed, looking back on the game, Mack Hansen and Bundee Aki are the most animated as they turn and start roaring towards the fans situated in the Family Terrace behind the tryline Connacht were defending.
Shamus Hurley-Langton pulled Aki back from celebrating too close to the Ulster fans - many of whom were irate and shouting back - while Hansen was letting out roars of joy. Aki twice gestured a 'night, night' to the fans as the home side's season was put to bed.
Mack Hansen was up for Connacht medias duty on Monday afternoon and spoke of his side needing to improve their attacking game if they are to turn over Stormers in South Africa, this weekend.
"It’s what we want to build on here in Connacht and make that a non-negotiable throughout the whole team. We just gave it everything we had for the full 80.
"On the flip side of that our attack was bang average. I think it was the first time we haven’t scored a try in God knows how long, but it gives us plenty to work on which is exciting coming into this Stormers week."
WATCH HOUSE OF RUGBY HERE:
- Connacht's soft-spoken hero destroys Ulster to put his side into semi-finals
- Three Leinster stars make final shortlist for European Player of the Year
- Johnny Sexton's most cherished jersey swap shows how seriously he takes his rugby
- Antoine Dupont answered question about Wayne Barnes the only way he could
- The Jacques Nienaber team talk that had Munster players straining at the leash