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Cardiff Blues A 12 Connacht Eagles 42

Pathway | 28th September 2019

Tries from captain Alun Lawrence and Lewis Francis weren’t enough for Cardiff Blues A, as they suffered defeat to a clinical Connacht Eagles in the Celtic Cup on Saturday.

The skipper replied to Conor Hayes’ early score, but the impressive Luke Carty inspired the backline as visitors sealed a bonus point after the break.

Prop Francis crossed for a consolation score but Connacht had the final word as they registered their sixth try of the afternoon with five minutes remaining.

Cardiff Blues A wrap up their Celtic Cup campaign at the Arms Park next Friday as they welcome Scarlets A to the Welsh capital. 

It was a positive start for the hosts, who looked sharp with ball in hand, as Ioan Davies and Dafydd Smith threatened to break past the Connacht defence.

However, a strong set-piece saw the visitors striking for a well-crafted try against the run of play.

Having won a penalty against the head, the Eagles opted to scrum once again. This time, the ball was worked along the backline to Shane Jennings, who made the initial break. Wonderful play through the hands of the backline saw Conor Hayes put through for a clear run to the line.

Carty - brother of Ireland international and Connacht star, Jack - converted, and another scrum penalty saw them returning to the Cardiff Blues 22 moments later. However, after a period of sustained pressure, Ethan Lewis produced a crucial turnover to give his side an opportunity to clear their lines.

A deliberate knock on on half-way gave Wales’ Capital Region an opportunity to visit the Connacht 22 for the first time, and they were clinical enough to come away with points.

A close range line-out drew the opposition pack, making space for skipper Lawrence to squeeze his way to the try-line.

Rhys Davies’ conversion was off target, but Connacht replied with a quickfire double to suddenly rack up a 16-point lead at half time, as Diarmuid Kilgannen and Jennings registered on the scoresheet.

The Eagles sealed their bonus point in the opening stages of the second half, as outside half Carty found his way to the try line, with the Irish side’s offloading causing problems for the hosts.

They punished the home defence further, as Peter Sullivan picked up possession on the left hand side, and managed to find his way down the wing to touch down for his side’s fifth.

Strong carries from the likes of Lawrence and Barney Nightingale allowed Cardiff Blues A to strike for a consolation score. 

They remained patient in the attack, forcing Connacht to concede a couple of penalties, and finally built numbers on the left hand side, paving the way for Lewis Francis to touch down.

However, a series of penalties saw Connacht regaining the momentum, and the hosts suddenly found themselves camped on their own try line once again. Cormac Daly threatened to make his way to the try line on the right, but was denied by Tim Grey.

Possession was retained by the Eagles and Joshua Dunne eventually powered over from close range to cap off their victory.