Connacht 14 Cardiff Blues 19
Sportsground, Friday 6 March 6.30pm
The Blues started the match playing into the wind and started strongly running the ball and carrying well in to the Connact half. However, each time they reached the Connacht twenty two they conceded a penalty and the home side cleared.
Somewhat against the run of play Connacht got the first score of the evening, when the Blues were penalised for offside, and outside half Ian Keatley slotted and easy penalty.
The Blues were dominating territory and possession but the points was eluding them with twenty minutes into the game the score 3-0. Connacht soon increased the lead with some slick hands in the backs leading to a penalty, which was taken quickly. The ball was shipped to the left where Ray Ofisa had the pace to beat the oncoming defence to touch down for the try.
The score had given Connacht confidence, and they again showed their attacking intent with only some solid defence keeping them out. Again the Blues were penalised for offside and Keatley again slotted from in front of the posts.
The Blues were dealt a further blow when both Robinson brothers left the field in the 35th minute after midfield collision. Flanagan came in at 10 and Czekaj came in on to the wing and James moved to the Centre.
For the third time the Blues were penalised in the Connacht twenty two when Rhys Thomas was shown a yellow card for coming in from the wrong side in the ruck. Keatley made it three out of three to extend the lead, in what was a disappointing half for the Blues, who struggled in the scrum and failed to get penetration in the backs.
Half Time: Connacht 14 Cardiff Blues 0
The younger Robinson brother returned to the field for the start of the second half and Sowden Taylor moved onto the bench, to make way for front row forward Gareth Williams for the scrums, with Rhys Thomas still in the bin.
Early in the second half, the Blues got their first score of the evening with a Ben Blair penalty much to the delight of the Blues faithful Dave, Tracie, Tony and Shirley who had travelled over to Galway for the match.
The next penalty came from a blistering break from Tom James, showing his strength and speed, brushing off defenders before finally being stopped inside the home teams twenty two and Connacht were penalised. Blair converted to make it 14-6.
Despite getting some good field position the Blues were failing to capitalise and again Connacht cleared the danger. It was a frustrating match for the Blues. They did however narrow the deficit to 5 points with a long range Ben Blair effort with just over 10 minutes left.
Again it was a tense finish and a late charge by the Blues saw them work the ball into the Connacht half. Skipper, Robin Sowden Taylor broke away from the ruck and ran in 40 yards to touch down in the dying minutes of the match to level the score. Blair kicked the conversion to give the Bleus the lead for the first time in the match, he added an injury time effort, and the Blues hung on for a great victory that moved them up the Magners League table.
Full Time: Connacht 14 Cardiff Blues 19
Speaking after the match Cardiff Blues Director of Rugby David Young said,
It was a very physical match, as physical as weve played this season.
We found it difficult to cut them and their defence was very strong to give credit to Connacht.
The wind played a big factor in the match, and going down 14-0 at half time we knew we had to score first in the second half.
I know its a cliché but it really was a game of two halves and I think it could have gone either way. But we came out the best.
Going in to the last 10 minutes we left it late but managed to nick it at the end with two minutes to go.
I felt that in the second half we controlled the game better and we had the option to kick with the wind behind us.
We knew it would be difficult place to come to get the win but we showed real character and determination.
Both teams played enough rugby to win the game but luckily we came out on top.
15 Ben Blair14 Richard Mustoe 13 Jamie Robinson (35off) 12 Ceri Sweeney 11 Tom James 10 Nicky Robinson (35off40on) 9 Jason Spice (70off)1 Rhys Gill (50off) 2 Rhys Thomas (70off) 3 Gary Powell 4 Deiniol Jones 5 Scott Morgan 6 Maama Molitika 8 Xavier Rush 7 Robin Sowden-Taylor (c)16 Taufaao Filise (50on) 17 Gareth Williams (70on) 18 James Down 19 Ben White 20 Richard Rees (70on) 21 Dai Flannigan (35on40of) 22 Chris Czekaj (35on)
Tries Sowden Taylor x 1
Pens Blair x 3
Cons Blair x 1
Tries Ofisa x 1
Pens Keatley x 3
Yellow Card: T Rhys Thomas