The Connacht United Rugby Championship campaign started off on a bitter note as they were comfortably beaten by a strong Cardiff side.
Ndy Friend’s side were in contention for the final quarter of that game but the lack of discipline took their toll as they were torn apart by the Cardiff back line. The Irish province lacked 10 players due to injuries and lacked the class to beat Cardiff.
Hallam Amos scored the first try, taking advantage of a long pass from Lloyd Williams to score from the corner. Conor Oliver burst into a weak Cardiff defense before calling on Amos to allow Kieran Marmion to run unopposed from 30 yards, Jack Carty adding the extras.
Cardiff suffered two serious injuries in the first quarter of the match as running backs Rhys Priestland and Jarrod Evans were forced off the pitch with head and rib injuries, respectively. This caused the hosts to play scrum half Lloyd Williams out of position at 10 for the remainder of the game.
Connacht appeared to have weathered the storm when a clean break from freehead pillar Matthew Burke allowed Carty to give up another penalty. But Cardiff struck on the stroke of halftime when Tomos Williams used a solid scrum to break through and put Willis Halaholo to the test. Williams converted with Connacht trailing 14-13 at the break.
Connacht huffed and puffed in the opening rally in the second half, but they lacked an edge behind the scrum to take advantage of the hard yards their pack made. And Cardiff was much more clinical with Owen Lane finishing a successful try in the far left corner after tremendous handling under pressure from the home side. Although not a regular kicker, Tomos Williams took advantage of the conversion from the sideline to put Connacht two goals behind.
But Connacht refused to throw in the towel as Carty brought Friend’s team back within range with a successful penalty. Connacht had a bit between his teeth as they besieged the Cardiff line with their line-up causing big problems for the hosts.
And Cardiff was reduced to 14 men when Wales lock Seb Davies was sent to the trash for not rolling. But just a minute later, the Connacht Carty playmaker suffered the same fate as he received a yellow card for illegally entering a ruck.
Connacht surrendered when debutant Mack Hansen also received a yellow card for an unarmed tackle on Lane. And Cardiff made the most of it with Lane passing at close range after a neat pass from Williams, with the scrum-half having once again passed the conversion to claim the tryout bonus point.
Then, Cardiff replacement hooker Liam Belcher hit the ground after a powerful driving line-up from the hosts. But Connacht at least ended the game on a high note when Marmion opened Cardiff with a 30-yard break to touch the ground.
Cardiff Rugby – H Amos; O Lane, R Lee-Lo, W Halaholo (M Llewellyn 73), J Harries; R Priestland (J Evans 2) (T Williams 21), L Williams, C Domachowski (R Carre 52), K Myhill (L Belcher 52), D Arhip (D Lewis 52), S Davies (R Thornton 78), M Screech , J Turnbull, E Jenkins, J Ratti (W Boyde 59).
Connacht – T O’Halloran; J Porch (S Arnold 79), T Farrell, T Daly, M Hansen; J Carty, K Marmion; M Burke (J Duggan 58), S Delahunt (D Heffernan 45), F Bealham (D Robertson-McCoy 58), O Dowling, U Dillane (N Murray 64), C Prendergast, C Oliver (P Boyle 50), J Butler . Representatives not used: H Gilvarry, C Fitzgerald,
Ref – Andrea Piardi (Italy)