Connacht Rugby has suffered their first defeat of the new RaboDirect PRO 12 season going down to Welsh side Cardiff Blues 9-13 at the Sportsground this evening.
A first half try from scrum-half Lewis Jones aided by the boot of out-half Ceri Sweeney helped Cardiff race into a 13-0 first-half lead which Connacht failed to recoup for the remainder of the game.
Miah Nikora missed an early penalty on 12 minutes as Connacht took control of a game played in typical wet and windy Galway weather. As the half progressed a series of errors from the home side allowed the Blues a platform to get back into the game and Sweeney kicked two penalties in six minutes to give the visitors a surprise lead.
Further misery was heaped on Connacht on 30 minutes when Jones pounced on a loose ball and crashed over in the corner against the run of play. Sweeney superbly converted from a tight angle and the Welsh side went in 13-0 ahead at half-time.
Connacht came charging out of the blocks for the second half dominating possession and territory and though Nikora kicked three penalties to bring Elwood’s troops to within four points, Connacht failed to get the elusive try that would have surely won them the contest – the numerous handling errors from the home side would be rued come the end of the game.
Eric Elwood’s post-game frustrations are entirely understandable. In the last fifteen minutes Connacht threw away score-able opportunity’s at the Cardiff line. If the smallest of the four Irish provinces are serious in their ambitions to compete with the big teams, chances like these need to be finished at this level.
A bitterly disappointed Elwood was close to using expletives by the loss. “We had majority of the possession, dominated territory but we failed to make it pay. Too many handling errors were caused and the lads are hurting down there, but we look to next week to make it right”.
“To be honest I’m peed off with the result. They took their chances, we didn’t. It’s something we’ve to return to during the week and get right”
Not surprisingly Cardiff Blues coach Phil Davies was delighted with the win. “It’s very hard to come here to get a result, never mind a win and I’m really pleased with the guys performance”.
Connacht travel to Italy next week to take on the new boys Team Zebre but must first cut out the errors if they are to edge games in their favor rather than be at the receiving end.