Connacht returned to winning ways tonight with an 18 – 7 win over the Cardiff Blues at the Sportsground. On his first game back in six months, John Cooney starred in the number nine shirt scoring his side’s first try and kicking eight points from the tee. Bundee Aki finished off a well-worked move to score after the break.

Both sides showed plenty of attacking intent in the early stages and it was Cooney who opened the scoring after 15 minutes, touching down on the back of a powerful five-metre scrum and then duly converting his own try.

But the Blues fought back and levelled the scores quickly as in-form winger James intercepted a loose pass to score his seventh try of the season.

And the Welsh side had a chance to take the lead after the referee awarded them a kickable penalty, but outhalf Steven Shingler pulled his effort wide.

The Blues continued on the front foot as full-back Dan Fish narrowly missed out on a try after he was marginally beaten in a foot race to his kick over the top.

But Connacht led at the break after another powerful scrum forced a penalty, which Cooney comfortably knocked over.

Half time: Connacht 10 – 7 Cardiff Blues

And the no.9 extended the advantage after the break with his second penalty after the referee spotted a tackle off the ball, before being replaced by 22-year-old Caolin Blade.

Blade almost made an immediate impact as he burst through the Blues’ defence, before the ball was later knocked on.

But the second try came minutes later as Niyi Adeolokun, two weeks out from his Ireland debut, split open the defence and centre Aki touched down in the left corner.

Now trailing by 11 points, Cardiff started to play with more urgency as Rey Lee-Lo and substitute Matthew Morgan linked up nicely down the left wing, but the ball was lost by Tomos Williams at the base of a ruck.

And minutes later they thought they were back in it when Morgan touched down in the corner, only for the TMO to rule it out for a knock-on.

The Blues continued to ask questions of the Connacht defence with a series of line-outs in the hosts’ 22, but the home side’s defence remained firm to the end.

Full time: Connacht 18 – 7 Cardiff Blues

Attendance: 6, 190 (sold out)

Referee: Nigel Owens

Man of the Match: John Muldoon

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