Rugby World Cup winner scores on debut as Bulls and Lions run riot in the URC

Planet Rugby

Bulls star Willie le Roux on his debut against Connacht.

Two-time Rugby World Cup winner Willie le Roux marked his return to South Africa with a try on debut for the Bulls as his side ran out 53-27 winners over Connacht in an outstanding performance.

The Bulls were brilliant throughout and never lost control of the game as other Springboks returned in the form of Marco van Staden and Canan Moodie, who had a late cameo off the bench.

Their forwards were superb and new signing Jaco van der Walt shone in the number 10 shirt with five conversions and two penalties as he settles in with the Pretoria side.

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Recalled Connacht captain Jack Carty and rival number 10 Van der Walt exchanged early penalties before the hosts seized the initiative.

Hooker Akker van der Merwe claimed the opening try, benefiting from a series of fine offloads involving Sebastian de Klerk and captain Ruan Nortje to cross wide on the right.

Flanker Elrigh Louw quickly added a second by powering over from close range after spotting a gap in Connacht’s defensive line.

The visitors were seeking another scalp on South African soil following last weekend’s single-point success over the Sharks in Durban.

Yet they were on the back foot for much of an entertaining opening period which the hosts ended with a convincing 32-13 advantage.

Following further penalties from former Scotland international Van der Walt and Carty, lock Nortje registered the Bulls’ third try with a simple finish after Zak Burger’s dummy broke the line.

Connacht briefly responded when wing Diarmuid Kilgallen raced clear to touch down wide on the left.

But Le Roux quickly extinguished a potential momentum shift by collecting a stray pass from De Klerk to bag the bonus point on his landmark outing just before the break.

Bulls scrum-half Burger was denied a breakaway try early in the second period when the television match official spotted a cynical infringement in the build up, which resulted in a yellow card for Van der Merwe.

Hooker Tadgh McElroy then burrowed over as Connacht capitalised on the man advantage.

However, the Irish side soon lost replacement back-row Conor Oliver to the sin-bin after he conceded a penalty which led to Bulls number eight Nizaam Carr going over.

David Kriel’s fifth URC try of the season, in the 66th minute, made the scoreline more emphatic before replacement fly-half Chris Smith converted his own score, prior to Shamus Hurley-Langton’s late consolation on a punishing afternoon for the away team.

Lions show their teeth

Henco van Wyk and Edwill van der Merwe claimed two tries apiece as the Lions eased to a convincing 61-19 bonus-point success over Zebre Parma in the United Rugby Championship.

Richard Kriel, Francke Horn, Quan Horn, Morne van den Berg and Emmanuel Tshituka were also on the scoresheet as the Lions emphatically claimed a second win of the season, while fly-half Sanele Nohamba slotted eight conversions.

Zebre responded through a pair of Simone Gesi scores, plus one from Jacopo Trulla and four points from the boot of Giovanni Montemauri, but were well beaten in Johannesburg.

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