Cardiff keep Connacht at bay in helter-skelter encounter
It was helter-skelter and often messy, but in the end Cardiff took the honours, leapfrogging Connacht in the table last night in Arms Park.
Connacht scored more tries, four to Cardiff’s three, but the home side edged the contest by virtue of a flawless kicking performance from outhalf Jarrod Evans and replacement Gareth Anscombe, kicking 21 of their 36 points.
It means the two sides have exchanged places on the table, Cardiff taking over the qualification spot with Connacht now one behind.
Connacht were rewarded for a period of phase play when Jack Carty struck an opening penalty after 13 minutes, thanks of a superior scrum.
Cardiff replied almost immediately through outhalf Jarrod Evans, and four minutes later openside Ollie Robinson got the opening try after some slick handling down the left wing, Evans adding the conversion for a 10-3 lead.
Evans soon extended the lead via a penalty to 13 - 3.
Niyi Adeookun’s intercept try, racing 40 metres to touch down, and Carty’s conversion reduced the arrears to 13-10 after 31 minutes. and two minutes later the latter added an equalising penalty.
Evans maintained his perfect kicking record, edging the home side into a 16-13 lead.
When Eoin Griffin was yellow-carded Cardiff took immediate advantage of the extra man, fullback Matthew Morgan finding the gap to touch down, and but for Nick Williams being penalised for blocking after review by TMO, Cardiff looked to have bagged a second through Anscombe.
Connacht again regained the initiative, and from a lineout and maul, replacement hooker Shane Delahunt touched down, Carty’s touchline conversion just short. But the home side pulled away again as Owen Lane wriggled out of a tackle and over the line from an Anscombe break, the outhalf’s conversion looked to have put the game beyond reach as they led 30-18.
Delahunt touched down to reduce the deficit to seven but Cardiff added a penalty before John Muldoon got the visitors’ fourth try. One last play saw Anscombe kick a 40m penalty.
Connacht’s Niyi Adeolokun runs in his side’s first try against Cardiff last night