Planet Rugby

James brace bags it up for Blues

12th October 2007 22:12

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Tom James, Cardiff Blues

James' late brace secured the bonus-point

Two late Tom James tries gave cardiff Blues a 30-16 bonus-point victory over Connacht in the Magners League at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday.

At one stage it looked as if a stuttering Blues side were going to go down to a plucky Connacht side, who lead after the break. But, despite leading 10 minutes into the second half, Connacht were blown away by two tries in three minutes from 20-year-old winger James.

The Blues began a little casually and were punished when a Ben Blair clearance was charged down and visiting fly-half Tim Donnelly kicked to the corner, where Samoan wing Ofisa Treviranus was tackled off the ball by opposite number James.

There might have been a case for a penalty try, but referee Peter Fitzpatrick called play back for off-ide and Donnelly had to settle for an easy kick in front of the posts.

The Blues produced a scintillating handling move, out of touch with the general tone of the evening, the ball flowing right and left before full-back Blair scuttled in for a try he then converted.

The home side dominated territorially, but were unable to capitalise, while Connacht's rare ventures into the Blues' half produced two more penalties for Donnelly.

It was first-half injury time before the Blues scored again.

Good work by prop Scott Roberts and centre Tal Selley seemed to be leading nowhere until returning World Cup star Martyn Williams broke hooker John Fogarty's tackle to go under the posts and give Blair an easy conversion.

Both sides continued to kick away possession and Blues fly-half Dai Flanagan was guilty of a particularly aimless effort, collect by Ireland World Cup representative Gavin Duffy, who raced 50 yards before replacement scrum-half Conor O'Loughlin dived over. Donnelley's conversion gave Connacht the lead.

Blair and replacement fly-half Nick Macleod each missed long-distance penalties, while acting Blues' captain Paul Tito knocked on in the act of touching down after a mazy run by James.

But Macleod finally slotted over a penalty when Treviranus was guilty of slowing the ball down, an offence which earned the winger a yellow card.

Another soon followed, when Fogarty used his hands in a ruck, and Macleod again kicked the goal.

Then disaster struck the visitors. Duffy and Keith Matthews collided as they went for a high kick, spilled the ball and allowed man of the match James to dribble 60 yards to touch down. Macleod's kick hit the post.

Within minutes James was on hand again to finish a neat handling move by crossing for the bonus point try.

The Blues allowed Connacht to apply late pressure which earned a series of penalties.

Martyn Williams was sin-binned but nothing was added to the scoreboard.

The Scorers:

For Cardiff Blues:

Tries: Blair, Williams, James (2)

Cons: Blair (2)

Pens: Macleod (2)

For Connacht:

Try: O'Loughlin

Con: Donnelly

Pens: Donnelly 3

Yellow card: Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues)

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Ben Blair, 14 Rhys Williams, 13 Tal Selley, 12 Tom Shanklin, 11 Tom James, 10 Dai Flanagan, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Mark Lewis, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Scott Morgan, 5 Paul Tito, 4 Deiniol Jones, 3 Scott Roberts, 2 Gareth Williams, 1 Gethin Jenkins.

Replacements: 16 Taufa'ao Filise, 17 Thomas Rhys Thomas, 18 Bradley Davies, 19 Maama Molitika, 20 Jason Spice, 21 Nick Macleod, 22 Gareth Thomas/Jamie Roberts.

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy, 14 Ofisa Treviranus, 13 Mel Deane, 12 Aidan Wynne, 11 Keith Mathews, 10 Tim Donnelly, 9 Conor McPhillips, 8 John Muldoon, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 Ray Ofisa, 5 David Gannon, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Ronan Loughey, 2 John Fogarty, 1 Brett Wilkinson.

Replacements: 16 Joe Merrigan, 17 Barrie McGovern, 18 Andrew Browne, 19 Michael McCarthy, 20 Conor O'Loughlin, 21 Peter Durcan , 22 Apilate Tuilevuka.

Venue: Cardiff Arms Park

Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)

Touch judges: Gwyn Morris (Wales), David Williams Cald (Wales)

Assessor: Tony Lynch (Wales)

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