Blues survive Connacht fightback
PRO14 REPORT: Owen Lane produced a spectacular acrobatic try to help Cardiff Blues to an 8-7 win over Connacht, despite being down to 13 men at the time.
Awful conditions for most of the game at Cardiff Arms Park made it difficult for both of the sides and Connacht looked like they might stage a last-minute comeback but the Blues held on.
The result brings John Mulvihill’s team right back into contention for a play-off place after they started the match five points behind their matchday rivals in Conference A and will finish it just two points behind.
The Blues took the lead after Eoin McKeon was penalised at the breakdown and Steven Shingler stroked a 38-metre penalty through the posts with ten minutes on the clock.
The Blues then had prop Brad Thyer sin-binned for illegally pulling down a maul just outside his own try-line but Connacht made a hash of the resulting scrum.
The discipline seemed to have disappeared altogether when No.8 Nick Williams was also sin-binned for a late tackle on prop Finlay Bealham leaving the Blues with 13 men on the field for the next five minutes.
Just as it looked like Connacht were growing into the game the Blues delivered a sucker-punch through Lane who continued his impressive rise through the ranks to get his whole body airborne as the tackle came in from Tiernan O’Halloran and placed the ball perfectly in the corner.
The TMO was called into action much to the displeasure of fans inside Cardiff Arms Park but there was no taking away from Lane’s brilliant acrobatics and the Blues went in at half-time with an 8-0 lead.
The Blues emerged a more disciplined side in the second half and kept Connacht at bay while the rain and the wind subsided for the last ten minutes of rugby.
And it was the try scorer Lane who carried the ball over this own try line to hand Connacht a lifeline in the form of a five-metre scrum which the Irishmen grabbed with both hands scoring through Paul Boyle and Conor Fitzgerald adding the extra two from the conversion.
With five minutes left to turn the tie on its head, Connacht threw everything they had at Mulvihill’s side but it wasn’t enough and after spilling the ball forwards the final whistle called a halt to proceedings.
For Cardiff Blues:
Yellow cards: Brad Thyer (Cardiff Blues, 14), Nick Williams (Cardiff Blues, 20)
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Harri Millard, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Steven Shingler, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 George Earle, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Kristian Dacey (captain), 1 Brad Thyer.
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Rhys Carré, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 James Botham, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Dan Fish, 23 Willis Halaholo.
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Tom Daly, 11 Matt Healy, 10 David Horwitz, 9 James Mitchell, 8 Jarrad Butler (captain), 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Eoin McKeon, 5 Cillian Gallagher, 4 James Cannon, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Matthew Burke, 18 Dominic Robertson McCoy, 19 Joe Maksymiw, 20 Paul Boyle, 21 Angus Lloyd, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Stephen Fitzgerald.
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales), Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)