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Page last updated at 19:52 GMT, Thursday, 30 September 2010 20:52 UK

Magners League: Blues 22-6 Connacht

Blues (16) 22
Tries: Laulala Cons: Parks Pens: Parks (3), Halfpenny DG: Parks
Connacht (3) 6
Pens: Keatley (2)

Scrum V analysis: Blues 22-6 Connacht

Casey Laulala scored the only try as the Blues battled to a win over always-competitive Connacht in Cardiff.

Ian Keatley kicked the visitors ahead, but Dan Parks replied with 14 points from the boot to supplement Laulala's 31st-minute glide through the defence.

With wing Fionn Carr always threatening, there were thoughts of a shock comeback by the Irish side.

But a 51m Leigh Halfpenny kick sealed victory in a scrappy game, the Blues going top of the Magners League table .

It was the 12th win in 13 games for the Welsh side, who open their Heineken Cup campaign against Edinburgh at Cardiff City Stadium on 9 October.

In-form Connacht - whose only defeat this season was a late 35-33 loss at the Scarlets in round two of the league - started well in front of the 11,000 crowd, Carr looking particularly dangerous with two scintillating breaks.

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Fly-half Keatley opened the scoring with a penalty that was soon cancelled out by Blues opposite number Parks.

The Scotland international then calmed home nerves, taking his side clear with a second penalty followed by a drop-goal.

The Blues' creative inspiration Laulala then received the ball just outside the Connacht 22 and ripped their defence apart with a sublime piece of skill.

The former New Zealand All Black dummied a pass to Ben Blair, then stepped sweetly between the flailing Keatley and Niva Ta'auso to slide in under the posts for a converted try.

Connacht mounted a sustained assault on the Blues line as the first half drew to a close, Carr again to the fore, but a knock on left the home side's 16-3 lead intact at the break.

Keatley landed his second penalty to reduce the deficit at the start of the second period, before fine defensive work from Gavin Duffy denied Chris Czekaj a try after a break-out from his own half, sparked by Blair.

Keatley blew a straightforward penalty chance as the game Irish side continued to press.

But any fears felt by the home fans disappeared as Parks landed another kick then Halfpenny booted a long-range penalty from just inside his own half.

The Blues have now won all eight of their games against Connacht, who have just one win from their last 23 visits to Wales.

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"We have to give Connacht credit but we caused ourselves problems with our lack of accuracy, especially at the set piece," said Blues coach Dai Young.

"A bit of magic and Dan Parks' boot made the difference.

"It's a win but it shows how far we've come that we can really play poorly and win.

"It's a disappointed dressing room but we know we have to improve for the Heineken Cup, Edinburgh will be rubbing their hands watching that."

Laulala added: "We're doing something right - we're not playing great rugby but we're winning."

Cardiff Blues: Blair, Halfpenny, Laulala, Hewitt, Czekaj, Parks, Cooper, Yapp, R. Williams, Filise, B. Davies, Jones, Paterson, Warburton, Rush.
Replacements: Sweeney for Laulala (75), Shanklin for Hewitt (37), Baller for Cooper (78), Jenkins for Yapp (60), Dacey for R. Williams (71), Andrews for Filise (60), Tito for Jones (60), Pretorius for Paterson (55).

Connacht: Duffy, Nathan, Ta'auso, Matthews, Carr, Keatley, F. Murphy, Wilkinson, Flavin, Hagan, Swift, A. Browne, McCarthy, Ofisa, McComish.
Replacements: Fanning for Nathan (79), Nikora for Matthews (48), Willis for F. Murphy (71), Loughney for Wilkinson (53), D. Murphy for Flavin (78), Sweeney for Hagan (70), Upton for A. Browne (65), O'Connor for McComish (40).

Att: 11,058

Referee: Andy Macpherson (SRU)

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see also
Wales' sporting weekend in photos
30 Sep 10 |  Wales
Magners League 2010/11
02 Jul 10 |  Rugby Union
RaboDirect Pro12 table
09 Aug 06 |  Tables
Regional rugby archive
07 Jul 03 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
BBC Sport NI coverage
05 Aug 11 |  Northern Ireland
BBC Scotland programme guide
26 Jul 09 |  Scotland
Coming up next on Scrum V...
03 Nov 08 |  Welsh

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