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25th Apr 2022

Mack Hansen was not backing down when a 22-stone South African prop came for him

Patrick McCarry

Mack Hansen

“Oh, it’s all getting tasty here.”

Mack Hansen versus a 22-stone South African prop. It was lucky this one was broken up, as neither man was backing down.

Connacht supporters will have loved the manner of their side’s weekend win over the Lions, at Ellis Park, but would have appreciated getting the job done with a little less drama.

Andy Friend’s side recorded a 33-30 win over the South African side, after they had twice allowed them back into the contest.

Connacht were 14-0 and 30-18 up at different stages of the match, but still needed a late Jack Carty penalty to secure the away victory. They next face a strong Sharks side, led by Siya Kolisi, on Saturday.

There were a couple of tactical tweaks made by Friend for the game, which could yet have a bearing on Ireland’s summer tour to New Zealand. Bundee Aki started at 13, with Tom Daly inside him. This is common enough out West, but Ireland seem to prefer Aki as an inside centre.

The other move that raised some interest was Mack Hansen switching to fullback. The former Brumbies star has shone on both wings for Connacht and Ireland, this season, but was handed the 15 jersey.

He ran for 44 metres off nine carries and beat three defenders on his scampers, with one line break thrown in for good measure. There was also a 13th minute clash with a 22-year-old tighthead prop, while he was at it.

On the latest House of Rugby URC [LISTEN from 29:00 below], Greg O’Shea, Jason Hennessy and Darren Cave looked back on that Connacht win, and praised a couple of their players for big games in that Lions victory.

Mack Hansen

Mack Hansen not backing down

Early in the game, Connacht were 14-0 up and Ruan Dreyer was in the sin-bin for his role in what led to the Westerners getting awarded a penalty try.

Carlü Sadie came on so that scrums could still be contested, and me made a near-instant impact when he poached in over Hansen and won his side a penalty.

He obviously told the Connacht star what he made of his efforts at the breakdown, as well as shoving him on his way back. Hansen spun and grabbed himself a fistful of Sadie’s jersey as the two men chawed back and forth.

Mack Hansen

Despite giving up eight stone to the South African prop, Hansen showed he was not going to be cowed.

It will be worth watching closely, late in the week, to see if Hansen gets another run-out in the 15 jersey against the Sharks.

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