5 Dec, 14:49
The Ireland Under-19 squad to face Australia Schools at Ravenhill on Saturday week (December 14) has been announced.
This was a close contest played in unseasonably wet and windy conditions, with the wind-backed Blues showing a clinical edge in moving 13-0 ahead for half-time.
Ceri Sweeney peppered the wings with intelligent kicks and was in fine form from the kicking tee, landing two penalties and converting Lewis Jones' 30th-minute try from the touchline.
Connacht launched their comeback bid on the back of three Miah Nikora penalties, yet try-scoring opportunities were at a premium as the Blues deservedly hung on to take the result.
Missing a hatful of internationals and hampered by injuries, Cardiff Blues director of rugby Phil Davies fielded a number of new combinations and they took their time to settle.
Nikora missed a tricky penalty from the Cardiff 22 after a good bout of set piece pressure from the Connacht forwards, who included recent Ireland debutant Ronan Loughney.
Eric Elwood was unable to start a number of his new signings due to a spate of early season injuries, but new scrum half Kieran Marmion and centre Mata Fifita acquitted themselves well as did fellow debutants Willie Faloon and Robbie Henshaw during the closing stages.
Cardiff had a strong wind at their backs from the off and began to make headway entering the second quarter, led by their excellent captain Andries Pretorius.
A steadying presence at number 10, Sweeney booted two penalties in a five-minute spell to edge the visitors ahead against the run of play.
As Connacht's error count increased, the Blues capitalised with Josh Navidi disrupting a home lineout and teenage scrum half Jones pouncing to score in the corner.
The youngster's first senior try was converted with aplomb by Sweeney whose opposite number Nikora missed a late penalty chance to reply.
But Connacht, spurred on by Elwood's half-time words, rallied after a frustrating opening 40 minutes and Nikora got them off the mark from a central penalty.
As the hour mark approached, clever kicking from Sweeney and Jones allied to the Blues' ability to pinch Connacht lineouts kept them on top tactically.
Too many times the hosts wasted decent possession, a close-in rolling maul should have led to a score. They gained some consolation in the form of a second penalty from Nikora, and suddenly Cardiff were the ones making mistakes.
Hard-working number 8 George Naoupu forced another penalty which Nikora did terrifically well to convert from the right.
However, Elwood's men were let down by indecision and knock ons at crucial stages as the Blues took home the four RaboDirect PRO12 points.
|Connacht Rugby Score Card|
|Cardiff Blues Score Card|