24 May, 14:08
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An agonising defeat for Connacht at the Arms Park as Ben Blair kicks five penalties from six attempts to secure a two-point victory for the Cardiff Blues.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, November 18
CARDIFF BLUES 15 CONNACHT 13, Arms Park
Scorers: Cardiff: Pens: Ben Blair 5
Connacht: Try: Matt Mostyn; Con: Paul Warwick; Pens: Warwick 2
Full-time - CARDIFF 15 CONNACHT 13
80+4 mins: Referee Paterson is giving Connacht a decent amount of time to mount a late comeback but the Cardiff defence is like a brick wall. Only Riordan looks capable of breaking through when the ball comes his way. The westerners' hopes really rest on McHugh getting a late penalty chance but an Andrew Farley knock-on at a lineout crowns a night of unforced errors for Bradley's side.
Cardiff were there for the taking and a losing bonus point is little consolation for the province who, to their credit, worked their socks off for the 80-plus minutes.
79 mins: Unfortunately this game is slipping away from Connacht - it will be the one that got away come May time. Cardiff have done little to earn the five penalties that Blair has notched and the westerners' start was so good. They need to work on their discipline, especially around rucks. There are frustrated looks on the Connacht bench as the seconds tick away.
75 mins: Jamie Robinson, consistently the only back on the field to beat the first defender, arrows through a gap. However during the next phase, Riordan produces a great hit on replacement Tom James and Yapp bundles him into touch.
73 mins: Connacht are trying to work their backs through gaps. Darren Yapp is frequently coming in off his wing. A chip over the top from McHugh earns decent field position for the visitors but possession is Cardiff's.
69 mins: CARDIFF PENALTY! That penalty could prove to be the most costly of the night for Connacht. Blair kicks the Blues in front for the first time from the resultant place-kick - Cardiff 15 Connacht 13
68 mins: Hogan is pinged for bringing a scrum down, although he was not helped by Ofisa breaking early from behind him, and Cardiff have a left-sided penalty.
63 mins: Cardfiff have a great position to attack off a scrum five metres from the Connacht line. Prop Ray Hogan's first action, having come on for Brett Wilkinson, is to face Scott Roberts at the set piece. Only some sterling defence from the visitors, who are getting their body positions low and tackling hard, stop Cardiff from getting in for a try - Rush, Scott Morgan and Deiniol Jones have had repeated pops at the line.
61 mins: Keane and Flavin have been replaced by Connacht. Conor O'Loughlin and John Fogarty are on.
60 mins: Good relieving kick from Riordan sends the Connacht forwards up into the Blues' 22 for a lineout. The hosts' set piece has been effective all night however, and Robinson clears.
57 mins: CARDIFF PENALTY! It is four out of five for Blair after Rigney is found guilty of pinching Cardiff ball illegally at a ruck. Blair nudges his kick over from the right, 35 metres out from goal - Cardiff 12 Connacht 13
54 mins: McHugh's booming right boot is already coming into play - he has the Connacht pack on the move and away from dangerous situations near their own line.
51 mins: An open-handed slap from Cardiff skipper Rush on Connacht's Adrian Flavin has the All Black in trouble. No sign of a yellow card from referee Neil Paterson who awards the visitors a penalty.
49 mins: Mark McHugh and Colm Rigney have been brought into the fray by Connacht - Warwick, who seems to have an injury to his right leg, and O'Connor make way. Coach Michael Bradley will hope the experienced duo can turn the tide - the Welsh region have been on top for the early part of the second half.
45 mins: A nasty clash of heads between Connacht number 15 Riordan and Blues centre Jamie Robinson holds up play for three to four minutes. Both players are fit to continue.
43 mins: Connacht gift another cheap penalty to their hosts, out on the left flank, but Blair's attempt is wayward.
Second Half: Kick-Off: Nicky Robinson restarts with the rain easing off slightly in the Welsh capital.
Half-time - CARDIFF 9 CONNACHT 13
40+1 mins: Connacht are ending the half on the front foot. Their pack is putting the heat on Cardiff - David Gannon takes a lineout ball, 10 metres from the hosts' line and the Blues are penalised for taking the drive down. Warwick kicks the penalty to touch.
As the rain begins to fall quite heavily at the Arms Park, Connacht opt for another catch-and-drive tilt at the line, right in the left corner. Ofisa and John Muldoon both pick and go off the base of rucks but the Blues' defence is resolute. Warwick sends a crossfield kick over to the right flank and the unmarked McPhillips is haring up to it but the Australian's kick is too meaty and it evades the grasp of the Ireland 'A' winger.
40 mins: CARDIFF PENALTY! Blair boots his third penalty from three attempts, from just outside the 22, to cut into the Connacht lead - Cardiff 9 Connacht 13
37 mins: It takes three men to put down the powerful Luveitasau on the right flank. Connacht's defence is good again, Warwick clears his lines but from the next phase both Ofisa and Brendan O'Connor are ruled offside and the Blues have a kickable penalty.
33 mins: CONNACHT PENALTY! It is Warwick's longest kick so far but from over the 40-metre mark, he thumps it through the posts to reward Connacht for their quick counter - Connacht 6 Connacht 13
32 mins: Good stuff from Connacht - Cardiff's lineout drive is repelled and their attack out through the backs results in Hearty hacking forward. Blair races back to gather in the ball but with the Blues guilty of holding onto possession on the deck at the next phase, Warwick has another shot at the posts.
29 mins: Disciplined defending from Connacht there. Cardiff's first real period of pressure - Nicky Robinson gets through a gap as the first real chink in the visitors' armour is shown. Penalty to the Blues for offside at a ruck, it's kickable but captain Xavier Rush opts for the kick to touch.
25 mins: Connacht have been on the attack for the past five or six minutes, helped by the Blues' defensive line which is too lateral, but knock-ons are blighting the province's play. Everything is a little helter skelter, Ofisa has just booted a ball straight into touch.
20 mins: A lively back line move from Connacht sees them dart up towards the hosts' 22. A lineout take from Ray Ofisa sets up the possession, Warwick releases the outside backs with McPhillips making the first incision. Good handling from Keith Matthews and John Hearty but despite their improvision, the move peters out.
16 mins: CARDIFF PENALTY! Unfortunately from the restart, Connacht give away a cheap penalty from a ruck offence and Blair mops up with his second penalty - Cardiff 6 Connacht 10
15 mins: CONNACHT PENALTY! Cardiff winger Mosese Luveitasau infringes and Warwick extends Connacht's lead back out to seven points with a straight-on penalty from 35 metres out - Cardiff 3 Connacht 10
5 mins: CARDIFF PENALTY! With a couple of Connacht forwards offside at a midfield ruck, the Blues win a penalty which New Zealand full-back Ben Blair converts, squeezing his kick just inside the left upright. Conor McPhillips has replaced Mostyn - Cardiff 3 Connacht 7
2 minutes: CONNACHT TRY! Great start for the westerners - there are only 67 seconds on the clock when winger Matt Mostyn bursts over for his fourth try in nine league games. The score was created off a lineout maul in the right corner. Chris Keane worked the ball out to Warwick who invited Mostyn to speed through a gap - the former Ireland international was caught by Marc Stcherbina but his strength carried him over the line.
Unfortunately he was injured in the process and his night is over. Warwick converts as Mostyn is helped off the field, it is a left ankle injury and the Connacht medical staff get ice on it straight away - Cardiff 0 Connacht 7
Kick-Off: Paul Warwick gets the seventh ever Magners League meeting between Connacht and the Cardiff Blues underway.
Cardiff: Ben Blair; Mosese Luveitasau, Jamie Robinson, Marc Stcherbina, Chris Czekaj; Nick Robinson, Wayne Evans; John Yapp, Duane Goodfield, Scott Roberts, Bradley Davies, Deiniol Jones, Scott Morgan, Rhys Shellard, Xavier Rush (capt).
Replacements: Rhys Gill, Gareth Williams, James Goode, Mark Lewis, Gareth Williams, Nick Macleod, Tom James.
Connacht: Daniel Riordan; Matt Mostyn, John Hearty, Keith Matthews, Darren Yapp; Paul Warwick, Chris Keane; Brett Wilkinson, Adrian Flavin, Brett Sturgess, David Gannon, Andrew Farley (capt), Brendan O'Connor, Ray Ofisa, John Muldoon.
Replacements: John Fogarty, Ray Hogan, Ryan Strudwick, Colm Rigney, Conor O'Loughlin, Mark McHugh, Conor McPhillips.
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Touch Judges: Neil Ballard, Keri Evans (both Wales)