Cardiff Blues leave it late to beat Connacht

Connacht 20 – 26 Cardiff Blues

Full time Cardiff clear their lines and theres no time for the line out, boos from the home crowd directed at the ref but the players only have themselves to blame after a horrible start to the second half
79min In to the last minute and Connacht are upping the pressure
78min Connacht are on the front foot but a forward pass gives the scrum to Cardiff, promising spell from Connacht but it might be too late
77min Duffy with a great kick to regain the position
76min Cardiff turn it over after a real opportunity to get over for Connacht
75min Great kick and Connacht have a lineout 7 metres out
74min Referee opts to warn Scott Andrews for not rolling away despite the crowds’ call for a yellow
73min Nikora kicks a penalty from about 40 metres but it’s held back by the wind and it’s very short
72min Ah You leaves the pitch to be replaced by Dylan Rogers
71min Parks takes a drop goal, Connacht need to get a hold and up the speed
71min Cardiff lineout on the Connacht 22
70min Paul O’Donohoe replaces Frank Murphy
70min Connacht have ten minutes to get something here but it’s not looking likely as Tito returns to the fold
68min The Connacht mascot Eddie the Eagle falls flat on his face in front of the home supporters, that’s all mascots are good for really isn’t it?
67min Anderson goes to ground but he can’t release, a let off for Cardiff due to inexperience
66min Connacht are five metres from the line and pushing, great attacking
65min McCarthy finds a gap and gets through before being brought down, he was almost away there
64min Parks puts it over and that’s more breathing room for the 14 men
63min It’s well short but Connacht give away another cheap penalty for hands in the maul
62min Parks opts to kick a penalty just inside the Connacht half
61min TJ Anderson comes on for Ofisa too
60min Elwood puts some fresh legs on to get the most of the advantage, Reynecke on for Flavan who was suspect for the second Cardiff try
58min Paul Tito collapses the maul and is sent to the sin bin, Nikora puts Connacht level with the penalty, Connacht have the man advantage
57min The tempo has gone out of the game since Cardiff took the lead, the win is still there for Connacht if they can stay patient
56min Both sides trading garryowens now but the swirling winds are making it difficult to judge for the kickers
54min Nikora’s return gets a great reception, Connacht are still in possession but looking unlikely to threaten
53min Vainikolo is withdrawn after that wasteful pass and on comes Brian Tuohy, Miah Nikora comes on for O’Connor
52min Great play out from the scrum by Connacht but there are too many wayward passes and the move breaks down after a poor decision by Vainikolo
50min Line out in the Cardiff 22 for Connacht after good work from Fa’afilli
48min The crowd are getting frustrated now as the referee wrongly calls Flavan for coming up in the scrum
43min Absolute self destruction from Connacht and they’re only getting their heads back into the game now
42min Frenetic stuff Casey Laulala again to give Cardiff the lead, Connacht are loose in possession, Muldoon gives it away and intercepts, too easy. Parks converts
42min Parks converts and the gap is four, great kick from the touchline
41min Connacht are still waking up when Casey Laulala breezes down the line and puts it down for a very easy try
40min Players are back out and Cardiff will get us under way for the second half
Half time Connacht have put in a great shift this half and they’ve a sizeable lead at the break but that’s as much down to Parks’ poor kicking as they’re own hard work
37min Scrum again, Cardiff move it well this time but it end with a knock on, Connacht hold out
37min Scrum after scrum after scrum, the pressure is still on Connacht to hold out
35min Scrum breaks down, Parks is having an absolute nightmare and puts it wide – crazy misses from the Scottish international
34min Scrummage on the line and Connacht are struggling to hold their lead until the break
32min Rees breaks wonderfully and drives to the line but he caught at the line
32min Ofisa is down with what looks to be a neck injury but he looks alright to continue
30min It was McCarthy who got the touch down at the centre of that mass of Connacht bodies driving towards the line
28min O’Connor converts again, quality in the line out has been flawless and they’re driving well so it’s a deserved lead for Connacht
27min Massive heave from the take in the line out and another try for Connacht, not pretty but effective
26min O’Connor opts for a line out within kicking distance, Connacht are going to use their momentum
25min O’Connor opts to kick through a gap, looked like there was time to gain a bit more ground but O’Connor hass been kicking every opportunity so far.
23min Third stoppage as the referee struggles with his earpiece, three officals are needed to cut a piece from a roll of tape.
21min Connacht are slow to react to the ball coming out of a scrum and a nice bit of overlap sees them in but a little kick through goes too long, Connacht will need to watch the short side a bit more
18min Xavier Rush and Maama Molitika are gaining metres by just ramming the Connacht line but the home team are holding up well until Naopu gives away another silly penalty,it looks a certain three from Parks but he shanks it. Awful miss, let off for Connacht
17min Flavin gives away a penalty but it’s well in the Cardiff half so he only costs territory
15min Naoupu gives away a soft penalty, with Parks on the pitch they’re more often than not going to lead to easy points for the visitors – Connacht will have to be more careful
12min Lovely take by O’Halloran from the kick off and he bursts down the line and off loads to Swift before a high tackle on Fa’afili earns a penalty, O’Connor takes it well
11min Parks strikes it well and Cardiff are on the board, good response from Cardiff to the early try
10min Dan Parks will kick for a penalty after an offside from Duffy, straight in front of the posts 40 metres out
9min Connacht’s line is holding well so far, keeping Cardiff to a distance and Dan Parks plays a frustrated up and under that goes way too long
6min Knock on in the ruck by a Cardiff player and Connacht can clear
6min Cardiff being held up five yards from the line by the Connacht defence, they’re right underneath the post
4min Cardiff look to hit back straight away and are making progress inside the Connacht 22
3min Niall O’Connor converts
1min O’Halloran puts it over at the corner after lovely play from the ruck by Ah You, well done by Connacht
1min Griffin can’t get to a pass but it falls to Duffy and Ah You runs at the line forcing the tackle
1min Straight into a ruck from the kick, we can expect plenty of that today
0min Connacht in green will get us underway against Cardiff in sky blue
0min Connacht take the pitch to a great reception from the Clan Stand, we’ll be off in a minute or so

Only five minutes to kick off in a drizzly Sportsgrounds, Connacht may well fancy their chances here against a depleted Cardiff, especially if Fetu’u Vainikolo can show some of the spark that earned him the winning try against France at the World Cup.

Johnny O’Connor has been injured in the warm up, someone came down heavily on his knee during the rucking exercises apparently, so George Naoupu will start in his place.

It’s going to be a tough ask for Connacht but they’re a side with a mixture of experience and excitement, there’s a total of 948 caps in the pack and the man who starred for Tonga as they beat France in the World Cup Fetu’u Vainikolo will start, Samoan centre Henry Fa’afilli rejoins Eoin Griffin in what has developed into a promising partnership. Connacht have won eight of their last nine games at the Sportsgrounds but have failed in to beat the Welsh in their last three attempts. Cardiff’s big signing of the summer Gavin Henson hasn’t made the trip as he’s being rested until next month’s Heineken Cup match with Racing Metro in Paris, something wrong with Renmore Gav?
We’ll be back closer to kick off.

Connacht: G Duffy (capt); F Vainikolo, E Griffin, H Fa’afili, T O’Halloran; N O’Connor, F Murphy;B Wilkinson, A Flavin, R Ah You; M Swift, M McCarthy; J Muldoon, J O’Connor, R Ofisa.

Replacements: E Reynecke, R Loughney, D Rogers, D Gannon, G Naoupu, P O’Donohoe, M Nikora, B Tuohy.

Cardiff Blues: Chris Czekaj; Alex Cuthbert, Casey Laulala, Dafydd Hewitt, Tom James; Dan Parks, Richie Rees; John Yapp, Rhys Thomas, Taufaao Filise, Michael Paterson, Paul Tito, Maama Molitika, Josh Navidi, Xavier Rush.

Replacements: Ryan Tyrrell, Sam Hobbs, Scott Andrews, Deiniol Jones, Ellis Jenkins, Lewis Jones, Ceri Sweeney, Gavin Evans.


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