Sunday 19 November 2017

Moore salvages bonus

Cardiff Blues 22 Connacht 15 Pro12

Connacht failed to build on a bright opening at the Arms Park last night as they fell to a 10th successive defeat in the competition.

It was a disappointing conclusion to a game where Connacht were in contention for long periods, but the visitors were not clinical enough and paid the price.

They at least snatched a bonus point when Tiernan O'Halloran put replacement scrum-half Dave Moore over in the dying moments.

Connacht scored the only try of the opening half, but they still trailed 12-10 at the interval in a lively encounter.

A penalty count of 7-1 to Cardiff illustrated how Connacht undid a lot of their hard graft, although a few of the calls of Scottish referee Andrew McMenemy were debatable.

The try was created and finished by O'Halloran, whose grubber to the right corner forced a line-out which Connacht sprayed across the field. Skipper Gavin Duffy looped a pass outside which O'Halloran did well to take and finish in the corner for his fifth try of the season.

Niall O'Connor, who had got Connacht off the mark with a penalty from the 10-metre line after two minutes, landed the touchline conversion to put Eric Elwood's men 10-6 in front after 16 minutes, Ben Blair having punished Connacht with close-range penalties after five and nine minutes.

Both sides were prepared to run with the ball at every chance and it took a superb double tackle from Ray Ofisa and Kyle Tonetti to deny Tom James before Blair reduced the deficit on the half-hour with a penalty and then edged the hosts in front four minutes from the break.

Both sides enjoyed a fair share of possession in the third quarter, but it was Blair who extended Cardiff Blues' lead with another penalty after 58 minutes to make it 15-10.

Connacht's hopes of a comeback suffered a grievous blow five minutes later when 36-year-old Martyn Williams, playing his first game in five months after coming back from injury, broke from deep and, while there was more than a hint of a knock-on when he initially gained possession, the Blues piled bodies forward.

As they worked the phases, tighthead prop Sam Hobbs dived in under the posts through the despairing tackles of O'Connor and Henry Fa'afili.

There was no way back for Connacht. They had a glorious chance seven minutes from time when Duffy broke clear only for Mike McCarthy knocked on with a clear run to the line, but Moore's late score rescued a deserved bonus point.

Cardiff Blues -- B Blair; R Mustoe, T James, C Laulala (G Davies 36), C Czekai; C Sweeney, R Rees; J Yapp (N Trevett 75), R Thomas (R Tyrell 49), S Hobbs (R Harford 69); M Paterson, P Tito (M Cook 75); M Molitika (C Hill 59), M Williams, X Rush.

Connacht -- G Duffy; F Vainikolo, K Tonetti, D McSharry (H Fa'afili 45), T O'Halloran; N O'Connor (M Jarvis 69), P O'Donohoe (D Moore 69); B Wilkinson (D Buckley 75), A Flavin (E Reynecke 54), R Loughney; M Swift, M McCarthy; J Muldoon, R Ofisa (D Gannon 24), G Naoupu (M Kearney 75).

Ref -- A McMenemy (SRU).

Irish Independent

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