Cardiff Blues 22 Connacht 15
Friday 10 February 7.30pm kick off
The much anticipated game, back at the Arms Park started with Niall O’Connor and Ben Blair exchanging penalties in the opening 5 minutes. A late change for the Blues saw Gavin Evans pull out with illness, Tom James moving to 13 and Chris Czekaj coming in on the wing.
The Blues won a further penalty in front of the posts that Blair again slotted but was then followed by a period of play with Connacht pressing in the Blues twenty two. The visitors won a lineout on the right and some quick hands in the backs saw the ball move all the way to the left with O’Halloran touching down in the corner. Duffy landed the difficult conversion.
The Blues then attacked with forwards and backs combining well to take the ball into Connacht twenty two. Laulala made a trademark break coming agonisingly close and then Tom James just being held up over the line.
The Blues did threaten with a great break by Mustoe into the Connacht half, ably supported by Paterson and Tito, and they restored their lead with two well taken Blair penalties. However, they were dealt blow when Laulala had to leave the pitch injured.
Half time Cardiff Blues 12 Connacht 10
As expected it was a tough physical battle up front with some big hits going in and neither side conceding an inch. It was an old fashioned arm wrestle and the Blues were coming out on top through the boot of Ben Blair. He slotted his fifth after Niall O’Connor’s effort had just fallen short.
The Blues got their breakthrough try from the efforts of the forwards. Rush went on the charge and a neat slip pass from Martyn Williams saw Hobbs come within inches of the try line. The Blues pushed again and this time Hobbs used his bulk to charge over to score under the posts. Blair converted.
Connacht squandered a try scoring chance when Gavin Buffy sliced through the Blues defence. He drew Ben Blair, but threw a dreadful inside pass that was knocked on.
Connacht got a cancelation try when a cross field kick was caught well by O’Halloran who sprinted from twenty two to twenty two before passing inside to Dave Moore to score. Jarvis missed conversion
Tries Hobbs x 1
Pen Blair x 4
Con Blair x 1
Tries O’Halloran x 1 Moore x 1
Pen O’Connor x 1
Con O’Connor x 1
Cardiff Blues 15. Ben Blair 14. Richard Mustoe 13.Casey Laulala (36off)12. Gavin Evans 11. Tom James 10. Ceri Sweeney 9. Richie Rees
8. Xavier Rush 7. Martyn Williams 6. Maama Molitika (58off) 5. Paul Tito (C) 4. Michael Paterson 3. Sam Hobbs 2. T Rhys Thomas (49off) 1. John Yapp
16. Ryan Tyrell (49on) 17. Nathan Trevett 18. Ryan Harford 19. Cory Hill (58on) 20. Macauley Cook 21. Lewis Jones 22. Gareth Davies (36on) 23. Tom Williams
Connacht 15 Gavin Duffy (C) 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo 13 Kyle Tonetti 12 Dave McSharry 11 Tiernan O'Halloran 10 Niall O'Connor 09 Paul O'Donohoe
8 George Naoupu 7 Ray Ofisa 6 John Muldoon 5 Mike McCarthy 4 Michael Swift 3 Ronan Loughney 2 Adrian Flavin 1 Brett Wilkinson
16 Ethienne Reynecke 17 Denis Buckley 18 Stewart Maguire 19 Dave Gannon 20 Mick Kearney 21 Dave Moore 22 Matthew Jarvis 23 Henry Fa'afili