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Last Updated: Friday, 12 October 2007, 20:18 GMT 21:18 UK
Cardiff Blues 30-16 Connacht
Tom James
Tom James scored two tries for the Blues against Connacht
Blues 30 (14)
Tries: Blair, Williams, James (2)
Cons: Blair (2)
Pens: Macleod (2)

Connacht 16 (9)
Try: O'Loughlin
Cons: Donnelly (1)
Pens: Donnelly (3)

Two late tries from Cardiff Blues wing Tom James gave his side a bonus-point victory over Connacht at the Arms Park.

The Blues led 14-9 at the break with tries from Ben Blair and Martyn Williams cancelling out three Tim Donnelly penalties for Connacht.

Conor O'Loughlin's try had given Connacht a slim second-half lead after Donnelly converted.

But two Nick Macleod penalties and then James' brace kept the Blues on top of the Magners League table.

The Blues got off to a slow start and Donnelly drew first blood for Connacht, sending over an early penalty after wing James had tackled Ofisa Treviranus off the ball.

But Blues full-back Blair soon settled home nerves to score and then convert their first try of the evening.

The home side dominated the early stages of the game but failed to take their chances and Donnelly punished them with two further penalties.

Just before the break Blues flanker Martyn Williams restored the lead, powering through John Fogerty's weak tackle to dive over under the posts to give Blair an easy conversion.

Connacht got back into the game after the restart though, with replacement scrum-half O'Loughlin finishing off Gavin Duffy's 50-yard break, which Donnelly converted to give the visitors a 16-14 lead.

Gareth Thomas was introduced into proceedings to make his Cardiff Blues debut after signing from Toulouse.

But it was Macleod who got the Blues back into the game with two penalties.

And then with 10 minutes remaining young wing James got his first try of the evening.

Duffy and Keith Matthews collided as they went for a high kick. As a result the ball was spilled to James who dribbled 60 yards before touching down.

And then late-on James was again on hand to score his second and the Blues' fourth try to secure the bonus point.

Martyn Williams was sin-binned in injury time but nothing was added to the scoreboard.

  • Blues coach Dai Young:
    "At the start of the game we would have settled for that.

    "We had to fight for the victory but it was difficult to play against a team that didn't want to play much rugby.

    "But, credit to them, their kicking was excellent and their tackling was superb and they worked hard and made it difficult for us.

    "We kept going and pushed away in the last 20 minutes and I'm pleased with that."

    Cardiff Blues: Blair, R. Williams, Selley, Shanklin, James, Flanagan, Rees, Jenkins, G. Williams, S. Roberts, Jones, Tito, Morgan, M. Williams, Lewis.
    Replacements: G. Thomas for R. Williams (50), Macleod for Flanagan (50), Spice for Rees (50), R. Thomas for G. Williams (65), Filise for S. Roberts (60), Davies for Tito (71), Molitika for Lewis (71).

    Connacht: Duffy, Treviranus, Deane, Wynne, Matthews, Donnelly, McPhillips, Wilkinson, Fogarty, Morris, Swift, Gannon, Ofisa, J. O'Connor, J. Muldoon.
    Replacements: O'Loughlin for McPhillips (45), McCarthy for Swift (60).
    Not Used: Browne, Durcan, Rigney, McGowan, Merrigan.

    Att: 6,921

    Ref: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland).



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