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Friday, 6 September, 2002, 19:47 GMT 20:47 UK
Elwood keeps Connacht clear
Cardiff fly-half Nicky Robinson
Nicky Robinson missed a late penalty kick
Celtic League - Pool B
Connacht 23-22 Cardiff

Connacht survived a second-half onslaught and escaped with the narrowest of victories over Cardiff at the Galway Sportsground on Friday night.

The Welsh side, beaten at home by Connacht in last year's opener, seemed to be cruising after they notched three tries in the second half.

Even when hooker Marnus Uijs barged over to give Connacht the lead, Cardiff had a chance to win it with the last kick of the match, but fly-half Nicky Robinson sent his 50-metre effort from the left wing well wide.

  Scoring details:
Connacht (16) 23:
Tries: Neville, Uijs.
Cons: Elwood 2.
Pens: Elwood 3.
Cardiff (0) 22:
Tries: Morgan 2, Robinson.
Cons: Robinson 2.
Pen: Robinson.
Att: 2,500

The home side, with the benefit of the strong wind in the first half, did most of the running and were first out of the blocks with a try after just three minutes.

Eric Elwood failed to ground in an assault on the Cardiff line, but centre Tim Allnutt was able to gather the ball at pace and flanker Paul Neville dived through from the ruck.

Elwood delivered the conversion and two penalties to give Connacht a 13-0 lead after 24 minutes.

The Irish side appeared to have the measure of the Cardiff front five, and Elwood had a steady platform to take advantage.

When Cardiff were penalised after a high tackle on Allnutt, Elwood struck a huge penalty to push the lead to 16-0.

Cardiff, despite coming into the game in the last 10 minutes, had only one opportunity to score before the break.

That had come from a Robinson penalty after some strong work from flanker Robert Appleyard, but in the difficult wind conditions, Robinson's effort floated wide.

It was a different story in the second half, though, as with the wind at their backs, Cardiff soon ate into Connacht's advantage.

Having survived an initial onslaught, Connacht's porous defence saw Robinson waltz through to score under the posts and convert after just two minutes.

Robinson was then instrumental in Cardiff's second try, launching an up-and-under which bounced twice before winger Craig Morgan was able to latch onto the ball just yards from the line.

Run away

The left winger crossed for his second try on 49 minutes to give Cardiff the lead for the first time in the match.

When Robinson added a 40-metre penalty to stretch the lead to 22-16 just after the hour, it looked like Cardiff would run away with victory.

Yet it was the home side who upped the tempo and they were rewarded with a try from Uijs.

Opting for a penalty kick to touch, Connacht forced Cardiff to drop the resulting maul close to the line and at the second attempt Uijs forced his way over.

Elwood's conversion put Connacht back into a slender lead by 23-22 after 66 minutes.

Robinson, who had proved instrumental in Cardiff's resurgence, had the opportunity to sneak a last-minute victory with the final kick of the match, but could not steer his long-range effort between the posts.


Connacht: M McHugh; T Robinson, D Yapp, T Allnutt (capt), W Munn; E Elwood, E Reddan; R McCormack, M Uijs, P Bracken, W Waugh, R Frost, M Swift, P Neville, E Peters.
Reps: D McFarland, H Bourke, C Rigney, J O'Sullivan, C Keane, S Moore, D O'Sullivan.

Cardiff: Rhys Williams; Nick Walne, Jamie Robinson, Matt Allen, Craig Morgan; Nick Robinson, Richard Smith; Peter Rogers, Andrew Lewis, Kenneth Fourie, Adam Jones, John Tait, Rob Appleyard, Martyn Williams (capt), Jim Brownrigg.
Reps: Gary Powell, Greg Woods, Chris Stamatakis, Dan Baugh, Ryan Powell, Iestyn Harris, Anthony Sullivan.

Referee: J Hogg (SRU).


The final

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