Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

Match Page 2017-18 - Current Standing WP: 134

Match Page 2017-18 - H2H WP: 136

Match Page 2017-18 - Last 3 Matches WP: 142

Match Page 2017-18 - Season so Far WP:141

Preview: Connacht Rugby v Cardiff Blues

Charlie Peat 22 Sep 2017

Cardiff Blues will head to Connacht searching for their first win of the season when the two side’s face off at the Sportsground at 3.15pm on Saturday.

What’s at stake? Connacht, who currently sit third in the table, will be looking bounce back from a 21-8 defeat at the hands of the Dragons.

The Blues, meanwhile, will be disappointed after last week’s near miss with Glasgow Warriors at home, a last minute penalty leaving them a point adrift at 19-20.

The result keeps Danny Wilson’s side firmly at the bottom half of the table, currently occupying sixth place in Conference A with a single point.

The Welsh side have won 20 of the last 28 meetings between the sides and need a victory after three losses on the bounce.

Team news (Connacht): NSW Waratahs import Andrew Deegan will open his account at Connacht this weekend and is one of a number of changes to the Irish side.

Irish Internationals Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux return in the front five, as Jarrad Butler gains his third start of the season in the back row.

A new centre partnership of Craig Ronaldson and leading ball carrier after round three, Bundee Aki, will be one to watch on Saturday.

Team news (Cardiff Blues): A new look front row will take the field on the weekend, with Brad Thyer, Taufa’ao Filise and Welsh International Kristian Dacey looking to prove a point.

Blues will have an unchanged backline, captained by Lloyd Williams, with Olly Robinson looking to make an impact after signing on loan from Bristol.

Talking points: Josh Navidi will be asked to play openside again for the Blues on the weekend, as the club’s No.7 injury crisis continues.

With Sam Warburton out with a “longstanding issue” with his neck, Ellis Jenkins and James Botham also injured, the Welsh side have signed Robinson to fill the gap.

Without Warburton at the helm, Blues will place a lot of pressure on Navidi to do the job at openside.

Key Battle: Andrew Deegan v Steve Shingler

Deegan, a 22-year-old talent from Australia, has already represented both Australia U20’s and Australia school boys in his career.

The fly-half will look to Irish International Kiernan Marmion for quick ball off the base to release Connacht’s talisman, Bundee Aki.

His opposite number, Shingler, who fired the ball wide late on last week, will be looking to make amends in this week’s match up.

The 26-year-old gave a good show of himself against Scottish International Finn Russel and will look to assert his dominance from the start on Saturday.

Key Stat: No player produced more carries in round three of the Guinness PRO14 than Connacht’s Bundee Aki, who produced 27 in their 21-8 defeat against Dragons.

Did you know? Blues have not won outside of Wales in the PRO14 since a single point victory over Edinburgh at Myreside in February.

Connacht Rugby: D Leader, C Kelleher, B Aki, C Ronaldson, R Scholes, A Deegan, K Marmion, D Buckley, D Heffernan, F Bealham, U Dillane, Q Roux, E Masterson, J Butler, J Muldoon

Replacements: S Delahunt, D Coulson, C Carey, G Thornbury, E McKeon, C Blade, T Farrell, S Ili.

Cardiff Blues: R Williams; A Cuthbert, R Lee-Lo, W Halaholo, T James; S Shingler, L Williams; B Thyer, K Dacey, T Filise, S Davies, D Welch, J Turnbull, J Navidi, N Williams.

Replacements: E Lewis, C Domachowski, K Assiratti, G Earle, O Robinson, T Williams, J Evans, M Morgan

TV: Sky Sports Action (KO 3.15pm local)

Match officials –  Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR), AR1: Andrea Piardi (FIR), AR2:Nigel Correll (IRFU), TMO: Stefano Roscini (FIR)

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Halaholo’s heroics get Cardiff Blues up and running after win at Connacht

Fiona Tomas 23 Sep 2017

WILLIS Halaholo was a two-try hero as Cardiff Blues  produced a gutsy performance to secure their first victory of the season with a 17-15 triumph over Connacht at the Sportsground.

Connacht started the game with more urgency and were rewarded from the off through a Craig Ronaldson penalty.

But a Willis Halaholo score before the break meant the visitors lead by four points at half-time, as Connacht were forced to see out the half with 14 men after John Muldoon’s sinbin.

Connacht stepped up their performance after the break and attacked more expansively as Darragh Leader touched down.

But a Steve Shingler penalty meant that the momentum stayed with the visitors.

It looked as if Connacht were heading for victory when Shane Delahunt charged over with five minutes left, but Cardiff came roaring back through Halaholo’s late effort.

Jarrod Evans kept his cool to slot home and hand the Welsh outfit their maiden win of the new PRO14 season.

Danny Wilson’s side frustrated Connacht throughout, who were forced to attack around the fringes in a blustery first period.

The hosts had begun brightly, with the fiery Andrew Deegan and Kieron Marmion testing Cardiff’s defence in the first five minutes with dangerous grubber kicks.

But when John Muldoon was shown his second yellow card of the season after tackling oncoming Brad Tyler without the ball, Halaholo side footed his way through Connacht’s defence to sprint under the posts.

The first-half was a stop-start affair, which saw Connacht struggling to hamper the ferocious work rate of Cardiff’s new front row, spearheaded by Welsh hooker Kieran Dacey, who earned his first PRO14 start.

Meanwhile, Bundee Aki further staked a claim to appear in an Irish shirt this season, magnificently pouncing on the ball at the breakdown.

The Welsh outfit started the second-half in a similar demeanour to how they had finished the first, using the advantageous strong wind that Connacht had struggled to use in the first.

And after racking up an impressive 30 phases – a testament to Cardiff’s resolute defence – Connacht worked the ball wide for Leader to cross in the corner to edge the hosts in front.

But the hosts’ one-point lead lasted no more than two minutes, as the Blues responded through a Steve Shingler penalty on the hour mark.

In a game characterised by narrow play and tight offloads, a TMO decision ruled Eoin McKeon to have impeded his outside man to deny what would have been a Stacey Ili match-winning try.

With two points adrift with six minutes to go, Connacht kicked for the corner after Cardiff threw their man into the line-out.

And their ensuing maul was too much for a fatigued Cardiff, as Delahunt charged over. And Leader slotted perfectly through the posts to give Connacht a five point lead.

But Cardiff came back again as Halaholo carved open Connacht’s defence to cross at the other end, as Evans held his nerve to get Cardiff up and running in the Guinness PRO14.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138