Sluggish Connacht pay the price as Cardiff bag bonus-point win
Cardiff Blues made it two wins from two at the start of the new Guinness PRO14 season and inflicted a first defeat on a Connacht side who never really got going in the 29-7 loss. Connacht’s trip to Wales on the day of the game looked like it played a part as they were sluggish in the first half with the Blues scoring through Hallam Amos and the boot of fly-half Jarrod Evans.
Andy Friend’s men failed to register a point before the break but did score through Conor Oliver in the second period. They did not make the most of an opposition yellow card and Amos’ second was the game’s crucial score before a penalty try and one from Kristian Dacey gave the Blues a bonus point.
The Blues looked certain to score in just the second minute as Matthew Morgan and Lloyd Williams raced clear, but the Welsh side gave away a penalty for illegally piling into the ruck. Evans did kick an early penalty and Connacht, who beat Glasgow in their opener last weekend, lost prop Finlay Bealham early on as the Irish side started in reverse gear and saw their first attack repelled by strong Blues defence.
Ireland squad hooker Dave Heffernan was the next Connacht forward to limp from the field and his opposite number Kirby Myhill soon followed him to the sidelines. There was plenty of endeavour from both sides, but also an inability to retain possession for long periods and a lack of cutting edge in attack.
Finally, the Blues broke through in the 36th minute and it was no surprise that when Josh Adams was involved, a try soon arrived. Morgan had started well and he made the initial break before finding Adams who passed inside to Amos and he finished with ease. Evans converted. It meant the Blues turned around 10-0 up and Connacht had it all to do.
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At the start of the second half, the Blues lost possession on their own line and Connacht had a series of reset scrums. Their forwards picked and went repeatedly, but once again could not hold onto the ball and another golden opportunity was lost. Williams cleared the danger for the Blues.
Connacht still had all the field position and this time they used their line-out as they turned down kickable penalties. Blues prop Dillon Lewis was yellow-carded for illegally trying to stop the set-piece, but the try had to come and it did when flanker Oliver dived over between the sticks.
Jack Carty converted, but with a man less the Blues struck a crucial blow as Rey Lee-Lo made the crucial break and Amos finished off in the corner. Evans could not convert, but the try was crucial as the Blues were then back up to a full 15 and an eight-point lead.
The Blues looked certain to grab a third try when they had a huge overlap out left. Dacey tried to find Amos for his hat-trick, but the ball was knocked down. Referee Gianluca Gnecchi consulted the TMO who rightly awarded a penalty try and yellow-carded Connacht wing Peter O’Sullivan for stopping what would have been a certain score with the deliberate knock-on.
The automatic seven points and a man advantage for the Blues made the game safe and there was still time for Dacey to add gloss to the scoreline with Jason Tovey converting.
"Bundee Aki actually made me cringe a little bit"https://t.co/K1PGEFH0PM
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 9, 2020
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