Cardiff Blues 8 - 7 Connacht
HT 8-0
Sat 26 January 17:15 Cardiff Arms Park Att: 5,673 Ref: Mike Adamson Guinness PRO14

Cardiff Blues 8 Connacht 7

Sat 26 Jan 2019 19:10 Cardiff Blues 8 Connacht 7

Cardiff Blues hung on for a vital win over Conference A rivals Connacht in the Guinness PRO14, thanks to a sensational first half try from Owen Lane.

In atrocious conditions at the Arms Park it was never going be a fast and entertaining encounter but John Mulvihill's men did what was necessary.

Steve Shingler booted them into an early lead and Lane produced the match-defining moment as he finished sensationally in the corner.

The Blues never really appeared in doubt until the closing stages when Connacht muscled over for a try with four minutes remaining.

The victory sees Cardiff Blues move within two points of both Connacht and Ospreys in Conference A, as the race for European qualification heats up.

With a strong wind on their backs and following a Tiernan O'Halloran fumble, the Blues set up camp in Connacht territory from the off.

They kicked a penalty to the corner and pressed for an early try but were unable to break the committed Connacht defence.

An intelligent kick from Matthew Morgan almost created an opening for Summerhill but while he out stripped Cian Kelleher, the bounce of the ball beat him into touch.

Shingler slotted a long-range penalty on ten minutes but it was soon Connacht in the ascent as they kicked a penalty on half-way to touch.

Three more penalties followed, which eventually saw Brad Thyer sent to the sin-bin, but after opting for a scrum the ball was knocked on in midfield.

The Blues, reduced to 14-men, cleared their lines and worked their way into the Connacht half but minutes later they were dealt a major blow as number eight Nick Williams joined Thyer on the naughty step.

Williams flew out of the defensive line and clattered Finlay Bealham and while there was nothing wrong with the hit itself, it was marginally late and Mike Adamson did not hesitate in showing yellow.

Despite the numerical disadvantage, Cardiff Blues soon grabbed the game's opening try in stunning fashion. Despite being two men down in the pack, the scrum was tock solid and Lloyd Williams broke from the back.

He delayed his pass to absolute perfection, forcing Matt Healy to jam in as Lane hit the ball at pace. There was still plenty to do and little room to manoeuvre with O'Halloran forcing the Lane to the corner, but the young wing dived acrobatically, keeping his legs in the air to touch down in style.

Shingler was unable to guide the ball through the uprights from the touchline but Lane's effort had given the Blues an 8-0 advantage.

Now playing into the strong wind, the Blues almost made the perfect start to the half as Harri Millard sliced through the Irish defence. He found Williams in support but the scrum-half was unable to beat the cover defence and was blindsided by O'Halloran.

Phases later, the ball was lost and Connacht cleared their lines and continued to pin the hosts in their own half.

In worsening conditions there was little opportunity for expansive rugby with Connacht playing for territory and the Blues carrying hard through the middle, with Rey Lee-Lo in particular making yards.

Alarm bells were ringing on 65 minutes as David Horwitz dinked a clever chip over the Blues' rush defence. It appeared as though Kyle Godwin would collect at full pace but with an outstretched hand he knocked on.

With the Cardiff Blues pack taking an increasing foot hold on the encounter, they were able to stay out of trouble despite playing into the strong wind. Shingler fired a succession of penalties into the Irish half to keep the visitors at arm's length.

However, replacement Paul Boyle powered over with five minutes remaining to set-up a dramatic ending, but Mulvihill's side showed passion and courage in defence to seal a momentous PRO14 victory, with Glasgow set to visit the Arms Park in two weeks time.