Connacht blank Cardiff Blues
PRO14 REPORT: Jack Carty produced a masterful performance to steer Connacht to a bonus-point 29-0 victory over Cardiff Blues in the Pro14.
Having missed out on Six Nations selection the flyhalf proved a point to Ireland boss Andy Farrell by pulling the strings in Connacht’s home triumph.
Carty played a part in two of Connacht’s four tries and landed four of his five kicks at goal in blustery conditions.
The result sees Connacht close the gap on third-placed Scarlets as Blues slipped off the pace in the race for the quarterfinals.
Connacht came flying out of the traps as Carty fed Tiernan O’Halloran who went charging through. Peter Robb collected O’Halloran’s offload as he was stopped short, but a few phases later the ball was turned over by James Ratti.
The early pressure resulted in a sixth-minute penalty by Carty and Connacht’s pack threatened to drive over the try-line on 14 minutes only for Ratti to make another crucial intervention.
Blues were struggling to get out of their own half with Carty and O’Halloran both producing a series of superb touchfinders.
Connacht were also dominant at the lineout with Gavin Thornbury making two steals and that pressure told on 27 minutes.
Hooker Dave Heffernan collected an overthrow by his opposite number Liam Belcher before stepping inside and cutting through Blues’ defence to score. Carty made the conversion to give Connacht a 10-0 lead.
It was all Connacht as John Porch flew through a gap and Paul Boyle surged forward before the hosts scored their second try on 34 minutes.
Carty was running the show and his deflected grubber fell to Robb who collected and dived over in the corner. Carty missed the conversion, but Connacht led 15-0 at the break and they strengthened their lead at the start of the second period.
Carty’s fizzing pass was gobbled up by Denis Buckley who pulled off a stunning behind-the-back offload for Matt Healy to finish. Carty added the extras.
The bonus point was then sealed on the hour mark as Connacht turned the ball over before Kyle Godwin stormed home from inside his own half.
Carty then curled the ball home from the tee to move Connacht 29-0 ahead.
Blues created their best chance moments later as No.8 Will Boyde made a barnstorming run only for Porch to make a crucial tackle.
With Connacht’s penalty count rising Buckley was sin-binned for an infringement on 65 minutes. But Blues were unable to find a way through the home defence.
Man of the Match – Dave Heffernan
There were several contenders with Carty playing a starring role, but it was hooker Heffernan that sent Connacht on their way.
Just three points separated the two sides before Heffernan struck on 27 minutes as he was sharpest to an overthrown lineout and great footwork saw him breakthrough for the opening score.
Play of the Day
Props are not usually known for their offloading ability but replacement loosehead Buckley produced an outrageous piece of skill on 49 minutes.
After picking a great line to get on the end of Carty’s pass Buckley then flicked the ball behind his back and Healy was on hand to dot down.
Tries: Heffernan, Robb, Porch, Godwin
Cons: Carty 3
For Cardiff Blues: None
Yellow card: Denis Buckley (Cardiff Blues, 64)
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 John Porch, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Peter Robb, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Jarrad Butler (captain), 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Paul Boyle, 5 Gavin Thornbury, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Joe Maksymiw, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Tom Daly
Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Jason Harries, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Garyn Smith, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Lloyd Williams (captain), 8 Will Boyde, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 James Ratti, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Rhys Gill
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Nick Williams, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Ben Thomas, 23 Ryan Edwards
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher, Dan Carson (both Ireland)
TMO: Charles Samson (Scotland)
Main photo: @PRO14Official