Connacht grind past Cardiff Blues

Date published: February 12 2017

Connacht claimed their first victory in over a month when they beat Cardiff Blues 19-13 in Cardiff on Sunday.

After two weeks of Anglo-Welsh Cup matches attention turned back to the PRO12 as Cardiff and Connacht looked to continue their ascent towards the top six.

A try from Nick Williams bolstered by the boot of Gareth Anscombe managed to carve out a healthy 13-0 lead for the Welsh side in the first half. But a last minute try from Matt Healy alongside John Cooney’s conversion more than halved the home lead just before the break.

Connacht picked up where they left off in the second half as two penalties from Cooney levelled the scores. Connacht continued to dominate the half and in the 77th minute Tiernan O’Halloran stole the win for the Irish with a drop goal.

Craig Donaldson scored a penalty with the last kick of the match to put the result beyond any doubt. The Blues were beaten 18-7 by Connacht in Galway earlier this season, but had not lost to an Irish side at Cardiff Arms Park since 2013. Cardiff started strong as Anscombe bagged the game’s first six points, scoring penalties on the ten and 20 minute mark.

Almost like clockwork, Cardiff scored again approaching the the 30 minute mark. Williams saw a gap on the fringe of the ruck and crashed his way over for the games first try. Anscombe had no trouble adding the extras to make it 13-0.

Connacht managed to steal a try back in the last gasps of the first half with their first bit of real pressure. Healy went over and Cooney bagged the conversion to make it 13-7 going into half-time.

Blues were pinged at the scrum early in the second half, Cooney split the posts to get the visitors to within three. Cooney levelled the scores with 20 minutes left on the clock with a long range penalty from the halfway line.

O’Halloran scored a game winning drop goal in the 77th minute to steal a much needed victory for the visitors. And with the last kick of the match Ronaldson put the game beyond any doubt with a long range penalty to seal and impressive 13-19 win for Connacht.

The scorers:

For Cardiff Blues:
N Williams
Cons: Anscombe
Pens: Anscombe 2

For Connacht:
Con: Cooney
Pens: Cooney 2, Ronaldson
Drop goal: O’Halloran

Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Steve Shingler, 11 Rhun Williams, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams (c), 8 Nick Williams, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 James Down, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Anton Peikrishvili, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Gill
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Sion Bennett, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Willis Halaholo, 23 Tom James

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 John Cooney, 8 John Muldoon (c), 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 James Cannon, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 JP Cooney, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 John Andress, 19 Naulia Dawai, 20 Nepia Fox-Matamua, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Tom Farrell, 23 Danie Poolman

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Elia Rizzo (Italy), Aled Evans (Wales)
TMO: Stefano Pennè (Italy)