Pro12: Cardiff Blues 18-17 Connacht
|Cardiff Blues (3) 18|
|Tries: Tuculet 2 Con: Patchell Pens: Patchell 2|
|Connacht (10) 17|
|Tries: Heenan, Muldowney Cons: Ronaldson 2 Pen: Ronaldson|
Joaquin Tuculet's last-minute try gave Cardiff Blues a dramatic win against Connacht at the Arms Park.
Connacht led 10-3 at half-time thanks to Jake Heenan's try from a rolling maul and five points from the boot of Craig Ronaldson.
Blues responded with Tuculet's well-worked score only for Aly Muldowney's try to put back Connacht in front.
Tuculet touched down with the final play of the game, before Rhys Patchell's conversion sealed the win.
Despite a second successive win under caretaker coaches Dale McIntosh and Paul John, the Blues stay ninth in the Pro12 table.
Connacht's defeat, meanwhile, is a blow to their hopes of finishing in the top six - and a lift for the seventh-placed Scarlets' aspirations of doing the same.
Having won their last two Pro12 matches, Connacht made a confident start as they put the Blues under early pressure.
Pat Lam's side thought they had broken the deadlock after just four minutes when winger Tiernan O'Halloran touched down from Ronaldson's cross-kick.
But the try was disallowed when referee Lloyd Linton checked with the television match official Tim Hayes and judged O'Halloran to have tackled Blues full-back Patchell in the air.
It was not much of a reprieve for the Blues, however, as Connacht scored the opening try less than two minutes later.
Ronaldson kicked a penalty to the corner and, from the resultant rampant rolling maul, flanker Heenan was on hand to dive over.
There was a furious pace to the early exchanges, and a Ronaldson penalty stretched Connacht's lead to 10-0 before Patchell pegged them back with one of his own.
Despite a long spell in the Blues' 22, the dominant visitors had to settle for a seven-point advantage at the interval.
The Blues were much improved after the break and twice had tries disallowed early in the second half.
Scrum-half Lloyd Williams failed to ground properly from close range, while Wales wing Alex Cuthbert saw his score chalked off for obstruction from centre Gavin Evans.
The pressure eventually paid dividends, however, as the Blues utilised an overlap for Tuculet to force his way over out wide.
A second Patchell penalty put the hosts in front for the first time in the match after 65 minutes.
But having been on the back foot for most of the second half, Connacht struck back as lock Muldowney barged his way over.
The Blues poured forward in a late attempt to salvage the game and, after almost 10 minutes of possession, they were eventually rewarded as Tuculet crossed for his second try five minutes into added time.
Patchell was left with a tricky conversion to seal the victory, and the Wales international did so nervelessly to spark wild celebrations.
Cardiff Blues: Rhys Patchell, Alex Cuthbert, Cory Allen, Gavin Evans, Joaquin Tuculet, Gareth Anscombe, Lloyd Williams; Sam Hobbs, Kristian Dacey, Taufa'ao Filise, Jarrad Hoeata, Lou Reed, Josh Turnbull, Ellis Jenkins (capt), Josh Navidi.
Replacements: Rhys Williams, Thomas Davies, Scott Andrews, Filo Paulo, Macauley Cook, Tavis Knoyle, Gareth Davies, Tom Isaacs.
Connacht: Mils Muliaina; Tiernan O'Halloran, Danie Poolman, Dave McSharry, Matt Healy; Craig Ronaldson, John Cooney; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Rodney Ah You; Mick Kearney, Aly Muldowney; John Muldoon (capt), Jake Heenan, George Naoupu.
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Ronan Loughney, Finlay Bealham, Andrew Browne, Eoghan Masterson, Ian Porter, Jack Carty, Darragh Leader.
Referee: Lloyd Linton (SRU)
Assistant Referees: Leighton Hodges, Craig Evans (both WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Aurwel Morgan (WRU)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (WRU)