Cardiff outclass Connacht for bonus-point win
MATCH REPORT: Cardiff Blues continued their excellent start to the 2020/21 PRO14 season with a bonus-point 29-7 win over Connacht at Rodney Parade.
Hallam Amos scored a try in each half to set Blues on their way before a penalty try and one from Kristian Dacey settled the outcome as Cardiff beat an Irish province for the first time since January 2019.
Conor Oliver’s score had given Connacht hope but Andy Friend’s men slipped to their first defeat of the new campaign.
Blues started the game on the front foot and could have gone ahead inside two minutes, only for Alex Wooton’s try-saving tackle to deny Lloyd Williams after a superb break from full-back Matthew Morgan.
The hosts continued to threaten, with Amos next to go close as he was bundled into touch a couple of metres from the line, and the deadlock was broken in the sixth minute when Jarrod Evans slotted over a routine penalty.
Connacht grew into the game but the next 30 minutes were cagey, with both sides conceding numerous penalties to prevent any real rhythm building.
Kieran Marmion’s quickly-taken penalty helped the visitors to within 10 metres but indiscipline at the breakdown let Blues off the hook before the hosts turned on the style to score the game’s opening try.
A miss pass to Morgan stretched the Connacht defence and he found flying wing Josh Adams, who advanced down the right before sending a neat one-handed offload inside to give his international teammate Amos a simple run in.
Evans converted from out wide to open up a 10-0 half-time advantage for Blues but Connacht came out determined to reduce the arrears and set up camp inside the Cardiff 22.
Countless kicks to the corner saw the visitors banging at the door and the pressure eventually told when Conor Oliver received Sammy Arnold’s excellent offload and dotted down under the posts.
Jack Carty’s conversion narrowed the deficit to three points and Blues, who had lost Dillon Lewis to the sin-bin moments before Oliver’s try, were suddenly looking vulnerable.
That was until Amos strolled in for his second try of the evening, this time finishing off fine work by Rey Lee-Lo after the centre took three Connacht players out the game with a neat step inside.
Blues kept the pressure on and the outcome was sealed when the hosts were awarded a penalty try with 10 minutes to play.
Adams had made the initial break and, after Blues worked through the phases, Morgan would have had a routine run to the line had Peter Sullivan not deliberately knocked on from Dacey’s pass.
Sullivan was yellow carded and Blues pushed for the bonus-point score which they found when Dacey barrelled over from close range.
Jason Tovey converted to edge two points closer to 1,000 in the PRO14 – the flyhalf now needs 10 more points to reach four figures.
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Amos 2, Dacey
Cons: Evans, Tovey
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 James Botham, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 5 Cory Hill, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Corey Domachowski
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Rhys Carré, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Ben Murphy, 20 Alun Lawrence, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Garyn Smith
Connacht: 15 John Porch, 14 Peter Sullivan, 13 Sammy Arnold, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Jarrad Butler (captain), 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Eoghan Masterson, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Gavin Thornbury, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Jordan Duggan, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Paul Boyle, 21 Stephen Kerins, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Tom Daly
Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi
Assistant referees: Craig Evans, Adam Jones
TMO: Jon Mason