Planet Rugby

Blues kick off with victory in Ireland

01st September 2012 18:51

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Cardiff Blues scrum half Lewis Jones

Try for Cardiff: Lewis Jones

Cardiff Blues got their PRO12 season off to a winning start with a 13-9 victory over Connacht at the Sportsground on Saturday.

The result represents the Blues' third successive opening day triumph.

It was the Blues who had majority of the play in the opening period, taking a 13-0 lead into half-time through a converted Lewis Jones try and two Ceri Sweeney penalites.

Miah Nikora scored three penalties in the second half to get the Irish province back into the match, but it wasn't enough as the visitors held on for the win.

Cardiff, in particular, will be looking to improve on a disappointing 2011/12 campaign. By finishing well outside the play-offs, the Heineken Cup quarter-finalists underachieved in the Pro12.

They started this encounter in a controlled fashion, though. Despite appearing to be weaker on paper to previous years, especially with star centre Casey Laulala moving on to pastures new, the Blues opened the scoring on 20 minutes through a Sweeney penalty.

The fly-half added his second soon after before Jones touched down for the first try of the match, their fly-half adding the extras.

Connacht, by contrast, had a decent campaign by their standards last season after finishing in eighth position.

And although the Irish province struggled to get any momentum in the opening half, they reduced the arrears through a three-pointer from Nikora five minutes after the interval.

It was the encouragement they needed and the hosts' fly-half added another to move into losing bonus-point territory. A third from the tee piled further pressure on the visitors, but Cardiff hung on for a potentially vital opening-day away success.

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Pens: Nikora 3

For Cardiff Blues:
Try: Jones
Cons: Sweeney
Pens: Sweeney 2

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (capt), 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Mata Fifita, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Miah Nikora, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Ronan Loughney, 2 Ethienne Reynecke, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Rodney Ah You, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Dave Gannon, 20 Willie Faloon, 21 David Moore, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Robbie Henshaw.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Harry Robinson, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Gareth Davies, 11 Tom James, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Andries Pretorius (c), 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Rory Watts-Jones, 5 James Down, 4 Robin Copeland, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Andi Kyriacou, 1 Thomas Davies.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Beniot Borrust, 18 Nathan Trevett, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Cory Allen, 23 Tom Williams, 24 Owen Williams.

Venue: The Sportsground
Referee: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Olly Hodges (Ireland)
Assessor: Bertie Smith (Ireland)

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