Blues upstage Irish giants
Robin Copeland's solo second-half try ensured Cardiff Blues clung on to a shock 17-6 Pro12 away victory at Munster.
Robin Copeland's solo second-half try ensured Cardiff Blues clung on to a shock 17-6 Pro12 away victory at Munster, spoiling Ronan O'Gara's record-breaking day.
In the other Saturday match flyhalf Dan Parks kicked 15 points for Connacht as they secured a comfortable Pro12 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons at the Sportsground.
Cardiff's win saw them move a place upwards in the standings, but they are still hovering at around mid-table.
We look at Saturday's action!
Connacht 30-11 Newport Gwent Dragons
Flyhalf Dan Parks kicked 15 points for Connacht as they secured a comfortable Pro12 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons at the Sportsground.
Parks kicked two early penalties, before the hosts were awarded a penalty try which the Scot converted to give them a 13-0 lead.
George Naoupu added a second try, which Parks converted before Tom Prydie's penalty opened the scoring for the visitors just before the break.
Danie Poolman went over early in the second period to all but wrap up the victory, despite a second Prydie penalty, with Parks also landing a difficult drop-goal.
Jonathan Evans went over in the closing stages to salvage some pride for the Welsh region, but Connacht ran out easy winners.
The hosts came into the game after four consecutive Pro12 defeats but started brightly, Parks kicking an early penalty to put Connacht ahead.
After eight minutes Parks slotted home his second penalty after a good spell of pressure that saw the hosts pushing towards the Dragons try line before the infringement.
The visitors were given the opportunity to halve the deficit in the 13th minute after a high tackle, but Lewis Robling's kick sailed wide for the Dragons.
Connacht continued to press, Fetu'u Vainikolo going on a surging 60m run, and although he found Rob Henshaw, some last-ditch defending stopped him inches from the try line.
With 19 minutes on the clock though, the hosts were awarded a penalty try after persistent pressure, with Parks adding the extras for a 13-0 lead.
Connacht maintained their dominance, centre Dave McSharry breaking through the Welsh region's line and his pass found New Zealander George Naoupu who crashed over.
Parks made it four from four when completing the try to give Eric Elwood's men a 20-0 lead, but Darren Edwards' men registered their first score from Tom Prydie's boot two minutes before the interval.
Within one minute the visitors were awarded another penalty, but Robling again failed to convert, Connacht going in 20-3 ahead at the break.
Two minutes after the restart Prydie converted his second penalty of the evening after the hosts were penalised for not releasing the ball, but the Dragons remained well behind.
Elwood's troops registered their third try of the match in the 44th minute as McSharry again proved instrumental, his pass finding Danie Poolman who went over, Parks converting to make it 27-6.
On the hour mark, Parks kicked a perfectly-judged drop goal from a tight angle to extend the hosts' advantage and maintain his 100 per cent record for the evening.
In the dying stages though, replacement scrum-half Jonathan Evans went over to score the visitors' first try of the evening, although Prydie missed the conversion.
The win is Connacht's first in five Pro12 matches, and consigns the Dragons to their fourth consecutive league defeat.
Tries: Poolman, Naoupu, Penalty try
Cons: Parks 3
Pens: Parks 2
For Newport Gwent Dragons:
Pens: Prydie 2
Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Eoin McKeon, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Nathan White (captain), 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Brett Wilkinson, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Eoghan Grace, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Tiernan O'Halloran.
Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Mike Poole, 10 Dan Evans, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans (captain), 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Andrew Coombs, 3 Dan Way, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Adam Jones, 20 Tom Brown, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Lewis Robling, 23 Jack Dixon.
Referee: Andrew MacMenemy (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Mark Patton, Kevin Beggs (both Ireland)
Munster 6-17 Cardiff Blues
Robin Copeland's solo second-half try ensured Cardiff Blues clung on to a shock 17-6 Pro12 away victory at Munster, spoiling Ronan O'Gara's record-breaking evening.
After a rather uneventful first half it was the visitors who were far more assertive in the second period and they thoroughly deserved their fourth away victory in the Pro12 this year.
The defeat puts a dent in Munster's play-off hopes and was just their second home league defeat of the season, marring O'Gara's all-time appearance record for the Irish region.
Cardiff were strengthened with the return of Jamie Roberts, returning from an elbow injury, and Leigh Halfpenny and took the lead through young fly-half Rhys Patchell via a penalty in the tenth minute.
Munster came into the game on a three-match winning streak after victories over Ulster, Connacht and Glasgow Warriors, but were forced into an early change with Duncan Williams replacing Conor Murray.
O'Gara, winning his 234th competitive cap, then replied to Patchell's earlier effort with a penalty of his own to make it 3-3 and that is how it stayed until half-time, with Sean Henry replacing Mike Sherry before the interval for Munster.
The second half got off to a much more frenetic start and wing Owen Williams managed to score the game's first try on 43 minutes which Patchell duly converted to give Cardiff a 10-3 lead.
Patchell passed to the returning centre Roberts who put in a well-timed inside ball to Williams who broke down the middle, past Felix Jones, and touched down under the posts to cap off a fine move.
O'Gara then cut the deficit to just four points with another penalty three minutes later but his Munster side lacked the cutting edge that had seen them prosper in recent weeks.
Then, capitalising on an error from replacement scrum-half Williams, who fumbled the ball out of the ruck, No.8 Copeland picked up the ball, evaded several weak Munster challenges and sidestepped O'Gara in the process to touch down with ten minutes remaining.
And when Patchell added the extras the Welsh region led 17-6 with a big ten minutes ahead of them - a period of play in which they produced some of their finest defensive work of the season during to hold on.
Pens: O'Gara 2
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Williams, Copeland
Cons: Patchell 2
Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Doug Howlett (captain), 13 Keith Earls, 12 James Downey, 11 Johne Murphy, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Tommy O'Donnell, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Dave Foley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Sean Henry, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Billy Holland, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Casey Laulala.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Jason Tovey, 14 Owen Williams, 13 Richard Smith, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Lou Reed, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Benoit Bourrust, 2 Rhys Williams, 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Paetru Tamba, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 James Down, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Alex Walker, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Leigh Halfpenny.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Michael Black (Ireland), John Carvill (Ireland)
TMO: Jude Quinn (Ireland)