RaboDirect Pro12: Connacht 20-26 Cardiff Blues
Connacht (17) 20
- Tries: O'Halloran, McCarthy
- Cons: O'Connor 2
- Pens: O'Connor, Nikora
Cardiff Blues (6) 26
- Tries: Cuthbert, Laulala
- Cons: Parks 2
- Pens: Parks 3
- Drop Goal: Park
Cardiff Blues fought back from 17-6 down at half-time to beat Connacht in Saturday's Pro12 clash in Galway.
Tiernan O'Halloran and Mike McCarthy scored first-half Connacht tries with Dan Parks notching two Blues penalties.
However, Cardiff had threatened in the first half and Alex Cuthbert and Casey Laulala responded with converted tries in the four minutes after the restart.
Miah Nikora brought Connacht level again but Parks kicked six further points as Cardiff edged clear again.
Connacht had blasted ahead thanks to a try from young winger O'Halloran after just 108 seconds.
They built momentum from a series of rucks and Niall O'Connor's flat pass put O'Halloran through a hole and over in the left corner.
Out-half O'Connor added a terrific conversion from out wide but Cardiff enjoyed a good spell in the home half and Parks drove a penalty over from 39 metres out.
A high tackle by Michael Paterson on Henry Fa'afili allowed O'Connor take Connacht into double figures, but the Blues were edging the battle of the breakdown and Parks soon cut the gap to 10-6.
On the half hour mark, Connacht used their reliable lineout to launch a devastating maul which drove the Blues back over their line and McCarthy was credited with the touchdown.
O'Connor added the conversion and Parks' second terrible penalty miss of the first half and a knock-on from Xavier Rush just short of the Connacht line in injury-time kept the Irish province 11 ahead at the break.
But Laulala's half-break set up Cuthbert to score Cardiff's's first try within a minute of the resumption.
After Parks added the difficult conversion, Josh Navidi's intercept put Connacht on the backfoot three minutes later and John Muldoon's botched clearance allowed Laulala to score another try.
Park' conversion meant the Blues were suddenly 20-17 ahead and while a Miah Nikora penalty brought Connacht level again, Parks replied in kind for Cardiff and then added another drop goal as the Welsh club held on to win despite late pressure from the home side.
Connacht: G Duffy (capt); F Vainikolo, E Griffin, H Fa'afili, T O'Halloran; N O'Connor, F Murphy; B Wilkinson, A Flavin, R Ah You; M Swift, M McCarthy; J Muldoon, J O'Connor, R Ofisa.
Replacements: E Reynecke for Flavin 60, TJ Anderson for Ofisa 60, M Nikora for N O'Connor 53, B Tuohy for Vainikolo 53, P O'Donohoe for Murphy 68, D Rogers for Ah You 73
Not used: R Loughney, D Gannon
Cardiff Blues: C Czekaj; A Cuthbert, C Laulala, D Hewitt, T James; D Parks, R Rees; J Yapp, R Thomas, T Filise, M Paterson, P Tito, M Molitika, J Navidi, X Rush.
Replacements: S Hobbs for Yapp 60, S Andrews for Filise 60, G Evans for Hewitt 60, C Sweeney for Cuthbert 77.
Not used: R Tyrrell, D Jones, E Jenkins, L Jones
Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan, Peter Roche (both IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: John Cole (IRFU)
TMO: Jude Quinn (IRFU)