Cardiff Blues 13 Connacht 19
Connacht snatched a 19-13 triumph at Cardiff Blues to keep their faint European Champions Cup qualification hopes alive.
Locked at 13-13 heading into the final two minutes after Nick Williams burrowed over for Blues and Matt Healy crossed for Connacht, Tiernan O’Halloran landed a last-gasp drop-goal before Craig Ronaldson’s long-range penalty sealed a crucial victory to close the gap on the top six to 13 points.
Gareth Anscombe landed a 12th-minute penalty to give the hosts a 3-0 lead and doubled their advantage with a penalty minutes later.
Cardiff got the game’s first try after 28 minutes. Willis Halaholo left a trail of defenders in his wake as he jinked 40 metres downfield, before the hard-hitting No 8 burrowed over from close range. Anscombe landed the conversion to make it 13-0.
But Healey pulled the Galway side back into the contest just before half-time. Hooker Tom McCartney broke free in midfield and almost got over the line himself before Jack Carty found Healy in space for an easy run-in.
Cooney cut the gap to just three points moments after the restart after Cardiff pushed early at a scrum. Cooney used the breeze to his advantage to level the scores at 13-13 with 17 minutes remaining after some ferocious defence earned a penalty.
Connacht spurned a chance to take the lead when wing Healy spilled at the vital moment when sent through in the corner. Carty then missed a drop-goal in the 78th minute, but O’Halloran landed one of his own a minute later before Ronaldson’s long-range penalty sealed the triumph.
CARDIFF BLUES: Morgan, Scully, Lee-Lo, Shingler, R. Williams, Anscombe, L. Williams, Gill, Dacey, Peikrishvili, Hoeata, Down, Cook, Navidi, N. Williams.
Replacements: James for R. Williams (51), M. Thomas for Gill (78), Rees for Dacey (70), Andrews for Peikrishvili (47), S. Davies for Hoeata (75).
CONNACHT: O’Halloran, Adeolokun, Ili, Ronaldson, Healy, Carty, J. Cooney, Buckley, McCartney, J. Cooney, Roux, Cannon, O’Brien, Heenan, Muldoon.
Replacements: Farrell for Ili (59), Blade for J. Cooney (70), Heffernan for McCartney (67), Bealham for J. Cooney (49), Fox-Matamua for Cannon (62), Dawai for O’Brien (78). Ref: Marius Mitrea (Italy).
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