Cardiff Blues 21 - 9 Connacht
Sun 06 December 15:00 Cardiff City Stadium Att: 7,105 Ref: Andy Macpherson Celtic League

Cardiff Blues 21 Connacht 9

Sun 6 Dec 2009 16:37 Cardiff Blues 21  Connacht 9
Ben Blair kicked off the action and the Blues had the momentum from the start, however strong defensive work by Connacht and handling errors by the Blues meant they were unable to convert their possession into points.

The Blues, strengthened by returning players and buoyed by their new recruit in midfield, Casey Laulala, continued their attack on the Irish side. A penalty was awarded to the Blues but Ben Blair was unable to convert it into points.

Connacht were also affected by the breeze in the stadium as their penalty taken by Ian Keatleiy went well wide of the posts.

There was a shift in the game after the missed kicks though as Connacht began to dominate, well worked passing by Wynne and Duffy saw them surge towards the Blues line only to be turned over.

The Blues regained possession again and new signing Laulala excited the crowd with a powerful run up the touch line breaking away from 3 defenders on his way through.

This time the Blues maintained pressure and go forward and returning internationals Gareth Cooper and Tom James looked sure to put the Blues over for a try. The Blues finally rattled the score board with a Ben Blair penalty, converted from right in front of the posts.

Connacht soon equalised though after Tom Shanklin was penalised for being off his feet. Keatliey had no problems this time easily converting to draw the scores level.

Tom James continued his aggressive attacking, impressing the crowd with runs up the touch line breaking through defenders only to lose possession when he chipped the ball on. The Blues were awarded a penalty shortly afterwards though, Ben Blair reclaiming the lead.

Connacht came back quickly though and after stealing possession at a Blues lineout they were back within 5 metres of the Blues try line again, the Blues cleared well though and forced Connacht upfield, nimble passing by the Connacht centres was soon stopped by Shankln.

Connacht continued their pressure but the Blues soon turned things. Martyn Williams making a move from the half way line, feeding Richard Mustoe for a well worked run, Gareth Cooper found Laulala who off loaded to Tom James who easily ran in a try between the posts. Ben Blair successfully converted.

The Blues barely left Connacht’s half after the restart and sustained attack from Richard Mustoe and Tom Shanklin put Tom James in for his second within minutes.

Half time score
Cardiff Blues 18 Connacht 3

The second half started slowly and the Blues seemed to lack the drive they’d had at the end of the first half however they continued to defend well as Connacht pushed on.

Ian Keatliey pulled 3 points back with a penalty shortly after the break though.

The referee penalised both teams far more early in the second half and the Blues were called offside more than once. Keatliey failed with the penalty awarded to Connacht though and the Blues maintained their lead.

Back in Connacht’s half and Sam Norton Knight opted to kick for the corner after the visitors were penalised, the Blues did little to force the score though and messy passing meant possession was given away.

The Blues did well from a scrum on their 22 however and new boy Laulala continued to impress with another break, easily handing off defenders but play remained in the Blues half and Keatliey converted his third penalty at his fifth attempt.

The hour mark saw changes from the Blues as Gareth Cooper and Sam Warburton made way for Richie Rees and Andries Pretorius, followed minutes later by Ceri Sweeney on for Norton-Knight.

The Blues second wind came after the replacements and sustained attack saw Tom James booting up field again, infringements by Connacht saw another penalty awarded and Ben Blair stretched the lead.

The game became scrappy in the closing minutes and the Blues defence remained solid, Connacht were penalised for a forward pass just off the half way line. The Blues won the scrum but a knock on by Ceri Sweeney saw another scrum formed on the half way.

The Blues hung on until the end to achieve an important win before the Heineken Cup fortnight.

Attendance: 7,105

Man of the Match: Tom James

Referee: Andy Macpherson
Touch Judges: Huw David & Mike Bethell
TMO: Neil Ballard

Cardiff Blues
15. B Blair 14. R Mustoe 13. C Laulala 12. T Shanklin 11. T James 10. S Norton-Knight off 68 9. G Cooper off 64

1. G Jenkins off 76 2. T R Thomas 3. F Filise 4. D Jones 5. P Tito © 6. S Warburton off 64 7. M Williams 8. X Rush

16. R Williams 17. G Powell on 76 18. S Morgan 19. A Pretorius on 64 20. R Rees on 64 21. C Sweeney on 68 22. G Thomas

15. G Duffy 14. L Bibo 13. N Ta’auso 12. A Wynne 11. F Carr 10. I Keatleiy 9. F Murphy off 70

1. B Wilkinson 2. S Cronin 3. R Morris 4. M McCarthy off 66 on 78 (blood) 5. B Upton 6. J Muldoon © 7. J O’Connor off 40 8. M McComish off 40 on 66 off 74 (blood)

16. A Flavin 17. R Loughney 18. M Swift on 40 19. R Ofisa on 40 20. C O’Loghlin on 70 21. M Nikroa 22. B Tuohy

Cardiff Blues

Tries-Tom James x1
Pens-Ben Blair x3
Cons-Ben Blair x1
Drop Goal-

Pens- Ian Keatleiy x3
Drop Goal-