A Hallam Amos brace and a monumental defensive effort saw Cardiff Blues secure an impressive bonus-point victory over Connacht in the Guinness PRO14.
The capital city outfit took on the Irish province at their Rodney Parade home away from home following a hard-fought victory over Zebre on the opening weekend.
Connacht were also targeting back-to-back triumphs following a snatch and grab against Glasgow Warriors but Cardiff Blues were always in the lead on a hugely impressive evening in Newport.
An Amos try in the first half helped the Blues to a 10-0 lead at the interval and they turned on the style in the second-half.
They even did the damage when they were down to 14-men with a second Amos try after Connacht hit back.
A quickfire penalty try saw the victory virtually secured before they made it a maximum points haul with a Kristian Dacey effort from close range,.
The Blues made an electric start at Rodney Parade but despite dominating the opening five minutes they were unable to points on the board.
First Matthew Morgan sliced through the Irish defence to create a gilt edge chance. With the Connacht defence coming across he dummied to the outside and found Lloyd Williams on the inside.
It appeared as though the scrum-half would canter clear but he was caught agonisingly short by an outstanding cover tackle. Minutes later the ‘home’ side threatened again with Amos going for the corner but he was tackled into touch.
The Blues spent the entire opening period in the Connacht 22 and took the lead on five minutes when they settled for a well-struck penalty.
Mulvihill’s men continued to demonstrate their attacking intent but Connacht were also growing into the encounter, with a altercation between Josh Adams and Bundi Aki firing up both sides.
With 15 minutes on the clock, Connacht pinned Cardiff Blues to their five metre line and then won a scrum.
They hammered at the line with their big men carrying with ferocity but the defensive line held strong and the effort typified by a pair of monstrous Halaholo tackles, first on old mate Aki and then Dave Heffernan.
Jarrod Evans’ jinking feet continued to cause the visitors problem but again Cardiff Blues were unable to convert half opportunities.
With refereeing decisions increasingly going the way of the visitors, they surged down field with Kieran Marmion typically keeping up the tempo.
The Cardiff Blues defence looked vulnerable, but Dillon Lewis swooped with the jackaling of a backrower to win a turnover penalty, which Evans cleared.
It was an increasingly frustrating half with both teams frantically battling for the ascendancy, but the capital city outfit struck on 35 minutes.
It was a stunning effort with Evans putting Morgan on the outside with a miss-pass. He found try-scoring machine Adams on the right and he tore down the touchline.
There was too much to do even for Adams but he had support on the inside and put wing partner Amos away on his former stomping ground.
Evans expertly converted from wide and the Blues took a 10-0 into the sheds at half-time.
That advantage was in grave danger as Connacht laid siege to the Cardiff line during the opening five minutes of the first half but a monumental defensive effort kept the Irish at bay.
They remained in camp in the Blues’ 22 and twice kicked to the corner. At first attempted their 12 man maul was shoved into touch and after kicking the next penalty to touch, again Connacht were held short.
Following a third penalty, with Mulvihill’s men getting no benefit from the Italian referee, Dillon Lewis was sent to the win.
The onslaught lasted for the best part of 15 minutes and the pressure finally told as the ball popped out of contact and Conor Oliver darted over.
Carty added the extras to make it 10-7 with 25 minutes to play. Connacht continued to turn the screw but a scintillating counter attack almost produced points.
Collecting a kick under pressure and virtually on his try-line, Evans beat two men and dummied past a third before putting Williams away.
The scrum-half had a huge amount to do and tore into the Connacht half before he was finally caught by the vast cover defence.
Somehow a retreating Connacht player was able to pinch possession as the ball was popped out the breakdown and the ball was lost but it did not take 14-man Cardiff Blues long.
They found space on the left and typically it was Rey Lee-Lo who created the opening. The ever-dependable centre stepped inside Peter Sullivan, bursting through the wing and Arnold.
He hitch-kicked away from the defence before seeing support on both sides and put Amos away for a crucial second.
Mulivhill’s men were now playing with all the momentum and a renewed zest. A break from Guinness Man of the Match Adams almost put Shane Lewis-Hughes in for a third before he was snared short.
Nevertheless, the damage was done and when the ball was recycled and spread right a try was inevitable. Dacey took the final pass and with Morgan, Botham and Amos on the outside but the ball was slapped down.
It seemed a dead cert penalty try and after consulting the TMO, seven points were awarded and Sullivan sent to the bin.
There was still time for the bonus point to be secured, and that opportunity opened up after a crucial Dmitri Arhip turnover in midfield. Evans found the corner, and while Lewis Jones was agonisingly close to sniping over, the hosts remained patient. The region's top try scoring forward, Dacey, eventually crashed over to seal maximum points in Newport.