Connacht pay the penalty against Cardiff as Rhys Patchell fills his boots
Pat Lam’s side go down after ending up on the wrong side of the referee
Connacht’s John Muldoon in action against the Cardiff Blues. Photograph: Darren Griffiths/Inpho
Cardiff Blues 21 Connacht 10: Cardiff Blues prevailed thanks to the kicking of outhalf Rhys Patchell in a scrappy Pro 12 game at Arms Park.
In a game lacking in intensity, both sides struggled to gain momentum to make this the spectacle that had been promised on the new Cardiff Arms Pitch. Certainly the weather mitigated against expansive rugby but it was a game marked by a lopsided penalty count in which Connacht were the losers. Despite scoring the game’s only try, Connacht found themselves consistenly penalised, particularly at the breakdown, and Cardiff were able to capitalise with Patchell scoring all 21 points – six penalties and one drop goal.
It had started promisingly for Connacht, who held a slender 10-9 first half lead. Although both outhalves had missed penalty chances, Connacht carved a worthy try in the 12th minute. Kieron Marmion in found Matt Healy on the burst and the left wing dived under the posts to grab his second try of the season.
With both sides making errors in the wet conditions, Cardiff, were able to gain the upper hand at the breakdown. With Connacht increasingly penalised by the referee, Patchell added two penalties and a drop goal before Parks put his side back in front when Connacht won only their second penalty of the half on the stroke of half time.
However the second half started as the first finished with Connacht persistently on the wrong side of the referee. Patchell kicked four penalties, while Connacht were limited to a 58th minute penalty which Parks missed.
On a night Connacht will want to forget Rodney Ah You’s sin-binning denying the Irish province a remote chance of claiming a bonus point.
“I have never been on a penalty county like that,” said coach Pat Lam,” I feel for the boys because they showed such heart in the first half and then they kept getting knocked back in the second half.”
CONNACHT: G Duffy; T O’Halloran, R Henshaw, E Griffin, M Healy; D Parks, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, J Harris-Wright, N White; M Swift (capt), A Browne; J Muldoon, W Faloon, G Naoupu. Replacements: J Heenan for Faloon (53 mins), R Ah Your for Wilkinson (55 mins), A Muldowney for Browne (60 mins), P O’Donoghoe for Marmion (62 mins), D Poolman for Healy (63 mins), R Loughney for White (73 mins), S Henry for Jason-Harris Wright, C Ronaldson for Parks (both 77 mins).
CARDIFF BLUES: T Williams; A Cuthbert, O Williams, D Hewitt, H Robinson; R Patchell, L Williams; T Filise, M Rees (capt), S Andrews; B Davies, F Paulo; A Pretorius, J Navidi, R Copeland, Replacements: B Bourrest for Andrew, M Cook for Copeland and G Evans for Hewitt (51 mins), G Davies for Robinson (60 mins), L Reed for Davies (62 mins), H Robinson for T Williams (68 mins), K Dacey for Rees, S Hobbs for Filise, and L Jones for L Williams (all 79 mins).
Referee: C Blessano (Italy).