It was a great night at the Sportsground as Connacht beat Cardiff Blues to secure champions cup rugby for the 2019/20 season.
It was Connachts fourth successive Pro 14 win which secured a top three spot as well as quarter final place at the Sportsground on Saturday evening last. Conditions were tough for both sides with the wind swirling around.
Caolin Blade got the first try of the game on 11 minutes, with some fancy footwork he got past the last defender to score. Paul Boyle though made the try with some superb work after he broke through the defence and offloaded to Blade. Man of the match Jack Carty kicked the conversion and it was 7-0. Cardiff though would hit back. Owen Lane burst through the Connacht defence with speed to race underneath the posts for a well taken try. Welsh fly half Gareth Anscombe kicked the extras as the scores were tied. Gavin Turnbury was next to score for the home side, a driving Connacht maul powered over with Turnbury on the end of it. Carty once again converted the conversion, 14-7 and that was the score at the break.
Carty converted a penalty on the resumption with Connacht now playing into a stiff breeze. That penalty made him top scorer in the PRO 14 for 2019. He then finished off a well deserved Connacht try on 49 minutes after some superb build up play Carty got the ball chipped it past Matthew Morgan collected the ball and touched down. He kicked the conversion and it was 24-7. Cardiff kicked a penalty to narrow the gap to 24-10, once again it was Anscombe. Then came some controversy in the game, Cardiff were over the line for a try or so they thought ! Seb Harries pounced on a loss ball and he put Jason Harries in space in the corner to touch down. However, the TMO was called into action. The replay showed that Harries had touched the ball down while his other hand touched the sideline. The score was cancelled amid protests from the Cardiff players, but the referee paid no heed to them. Connacht got the bonus point try on 70 minutes then when Matt Healy made the most of some poor defending to touch down in the corner. Cardiff mounted a comeback though with two tries. First, Turnbull crossed the line after a driving maul on 70 minutes.
Anscombe then put Harries over in the corner on 79 minutes to give the visitors at least some hope. However, Connacht managed to turn over the ball in added time and kicked it straight to touch to secure their first quarter final in four years.