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A game we should have won

3rd September 2005

The Blues travelled to Galway knowing that this would be a tough opening match in the Celtic League

Despite playing in to the wind Nicky Robinson got them off to a great start kicking a penalty from 40 yards out following an offence in the ruck.

Connacht making the most of the conditions constantly tried to pin the Blues down in their twenty two. A pattern emerged of Connacht kicking to the corners, the Blues winning their line outs and Mike Phillips clearing the ball. Solid Defence by the Blues kept Connacht at bay.

Things boiled over in the 12th minute with a brawl involving most of the forwards on both sides resulting in John Muldoon of Connacht and Rob Sidoli being sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes. The penalty was awarded to Connacht and was converted by Paul Warwick to bring the game level at 3-3.

Connacht’s constant kicking to the corner and putting pressure on the Blues in their half nearly proved fruitful in the 21st minute. A break through the middle by David Slemen nearly resulted in a try for the home team. An excellent tackle by Sowden-Taylor stopped Slemen just short and the ball emerged on the Blues side for Phillips to clear.

The Blues also had their chances. On the stroke of half time Mike Phillips took a quick penalty just inside the Connacht half, he showed good speed and vision to break and pass to Andy Powell. The Number 8 was unlucky that Connacht players blocked his pass to Chris Czekaj who had no one in front of him and would have certainly been in for a try. The teams went in at half time with the scores level at 3-3.

The start of the second half was more encouraging for the Blues with the wind behind them and the tempo lifted. However it was Connacht who got the first score. From a scrum in the Blues twenty two they spread the ball wide: Darren Yapp at centre slipped the ball back inside to Conor McPhillips to score the try. Paul Warwick converted.

Minutes later the Blues moved their way in to the Connacht twenty two and received a penalty. However Nicky Robinson missed the kick almost in front of the posts. With the Blues in the Connacht twenty two a lot more in the second half Robinson made up for earlier error, with a 25th minute penalty to bring the score to Connacht 10 Blues 6.

Connacht pressed up to Blues twenty two and Paul Warwick struck a drop goal in front of the posts to extend the Connacht lead to 13-6. The Blues had started to use the wind more and within two minutes the Blues were in the Connacht twenty two and received a penalty for foul play at the ruck. Nicky Robinson struck the penalty to bring the Blues to within four points of Connacht. With five minutes remaining the Blues pushed up field and looked as if they could snatch the victory in injury time when they were awarded a line out on the Connacht five metre line. Despite an excellent performance in the line out throughout the afternoon the referee called the ball not straight, Connacht cleared their lines and hung on to win 13 -9.