Connacht’s inability to pick up losing bonus points is proving critical in their Magners League campaign.
Once again on Sunday, Connacht failed to gain any points from this visit to the Cardiff City Stadium, allowing the Blues to pull away from the bottom of the league table with a 21 - 9 victory.
Coach Michael Bradley says Connacht played “excellently” in some areas, but failed “to get the rub of the green”.
“We had three or four opportunities, but we didn’t get the bonus point, and certainly, given our away form in the Magners, one point is better than no point and we are in that current philosophy in the Magners.
“We have missed out getting a bonus point by one score in the last three away matches and they would make a difference. It’s not that we go out there intentionally not to get them - the lads are aware of it and the management is aware of it.”
Two Cardiff tries just before the break proved crucial. Winger Tom James grabbed both, one of which Ben Blair converted, and Cardiff had gone from a narrow 6 - 3 advantage to 18 - 3.
Until then Connacht had defended well when necessary and enjoyed some decent possession, although Keatley had missed a penalty and drop goal attempt.
Connacht, with Michael Swift introduced and celebrating his 100th league match along with captain John Muldoon, continued to control possession and they were rewarded when Keatley struck a penalty. Although he missed another effort, a 62nd minute penalty closed the gap to nine, and the initiative was with the visitors.
However it was the Blues who sealed the game with a 73rd minute penalty despite Connacht’s late fightback.
Cardiff Blues: B Blair; R Mustoe, C Laulala, T Shanklin, T James; S Norton-Knight, G Cooper; G Jenkins, T R Thomas, T Filise, D Jones, P Tito (capt ), S Warburton, M Williams, X Rush. Replacements: G Powell for Jenkins 76; A Pretorius for Warburton 63; R Rees for Cooper 63; C Sweeney for Norton-Knight 69.
Connacht: G Duffy; L Bibo, N Ta’auso, A Wynne, F Carr; I Keatley, F Murphy; B Wilkinson, S Cronin, R Morris; M McCarthy, B Upton; J Muldoon (capt ), J O’Connor, M McComish. Replacements: M Swift for O’Connor h/t; R Ofisa for McComish h/t; C O’Loughlin for Murphy 71.
Referee: Andy Macpherson (SRU ).