Tonight’s game at Arms Park was the first RaboDirect PRO12 encounter to take place on the recently installed artificial 4G pitch. The rain bucketed down in the Welsh capital in the lead up to and all throughout the game, creating an unfamiliar surface for both sides.
John Muldoon, on his 200th Connacht appearance lead the side out, followed by the matchday captain Michael Swift.
The kick off from Dan Parks went straight into touch with the ensuing scrum at the halfway line leading to a Connacht penalty. Parks’ first kick from the tee was wide but his opposite number Rhys Patchell was just as unsuccessful with a strike at the posts on six minutes.
Winger Matt Healy opened the scoring on 12 minutes when scrum half Kieran Marmion spotted a gap and fed to the 24-year-old who slid under the posts for his second RaboDirect PRO12 try of the season. Parks added the extras to make it 0 – 7.
After two missed kicks at goal, Patchell added three points to the board after 20 minutes and repeated it just moments later reducing the deficit to just one point when Connacht were penalised for being offside. He kicked his side into the lead with a pin-point drop goal on the half hour mark.
Connacht continued to apply pressure and Parks responded with three points just before the break to take back the lead.
Half time score: Cardiff Blues 9 – 10 Connacht
From the restart, Connacht were forced to soak up some early pressure from the Blues who worked their way towards the Connacht line. Despite a break from British & Irish Lions player Alex Cuthbert, the home side were met with firm Connacht defense but made do with two successive penalties from Patchell.
The fifth successful penalty kick from the Man of the Match denied Connacht any consolation of a losing bonus point. The out half added to his tally with a last minute three-pointer to seal the deal for the Blues.
15 – 9: Gavin Duffy, Tiernan O’Halloran, Robbie Henshaw, Eoin Griffin, Matt Healy, Dan Parks, Kieran Marmion
1 – 8: Brett Wilkinson, Jason Harris-Wright, Nathan White, Michael Swift (captain), Andrew Browne, John Muldoon, Willie Faloon, George Naoupu
Sean Henry (for Harris-Wright, 77"), Rodney Ah You (for Wilkinson, 55"), Ronan Loughney (for White, 73"), Aly Muldowney (for Browne, 60"), Jake Heenan (for Faloon, 53"), Paul O’Donohoe (for Marmion, 62"), Craig Ronaldson (for Parks, 68"), Danie Poolman (for Healy, 64")
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