Cardiff’s fourth game of the season, and third in this run of Irish away games, sees us travel to the Irish Independent Park (which will be referred to as Musgrave Park for lazy journalism reasons) on Saturday to take on Munster. On the back of a disappointing loss in Connacht last time out, Danny Wilson will be looking for a reaction from the team, particularly in defence.
After the emphatic victory against Zebre and a battling performance against Leinster, we seemed to slip back into old habits in Galway as a not too bad first half performance became a woeful second half performance saved by a last ditch Sam Hobbs try gaining two bonus points. Coupled with the disappointing defence conceding 36 points, there was some more wayward penalty kicking which could’ve got us the win on another day.
Having said that, there were positives to take away with the two points. Another 80 minutes of battling from the whole team, plus Josh Turnbull adding to his try tally early in the season, and Aled Summerhill continued his very impressive start to life in pro rugby.
So onto Munster, and the tough games continue as we are forced to stay in the road by the World Cup. With only two points from the two Irish games so far, a win is really needed to get to around the 6/7 points you’d want from Ireland if Cardiff are to seriously challenge for a Champions Cup place. Whether it comes from Musgrave Park or in Ulster doesn’t matter, but there’s certainly no time like the present.
It’ll be no mean feat though, as we haven’t won against the Irish province since a 17-6 victory at Musgrave Park in January 2013, that being our only win in the last 10 attempts to beat Munster, and only victory in Western Ireland since 2007.
The Reds have started this season with three wins and sit joint top with Llanelli and Edinburgh on 12 points, although they haven’t been convincing victories especially. An 18-13 opening day win over Treviso was followed by two point winning margins at the Liberty, 18-20, and against Glasgow, 23-21, avenging last year’s Pro12 Final defeat. Back rower CJ Stander is Munster’s top try scorer with three, while Ian Keatley has been following Rhys Patchell’s lead in being inconsistent off the kicking tee.
In terms of Cardiff team news, obviously we continue to be without Sam Warburton, Gethin Jenkins, Lloyd Williams, Alex Cuthbert and Gareth Anscombe as they are with Wales, and Cory Allen who was injured in the first World Cup game. Also missing due to the World Cup, despite being knocked out, are Americans Cam Dolan and Blaine Scully, and Samoan Rey Lee-Lo, as Danny Wilson gives them time off to recover from the tournament. Of the players who stayed home from the World Cup it’s an almost clean bill of health, only Aled Summerhill and Tom James with knocks as Summerhill looks to recover from a concussion in Connacht, and James is still trying to get over the foot injury that kept him out of the Wales squad.
Squad vs Munster: (From) Backs: Dan Fish, Aled Summerhill, Tom James, Owen Jenkins, Richard Smith, Adam Thomas, Geraint Walsh, Garyn Smith, Tommy Isaacs, Gavin Evans, Rhys Patchell, Gareth Davies, Jarrod Evans, Tavis Knoyle, Lewis Jones.
Forwards: Manoa Vosawai, Josh Navidi, Josh Turnbull, Ellis Jenkins, Macauley Cook, James Down, Lou Reed, Jarrad Hoeata, Scott Andrews, Dillon Lewis, Craig Mitchell, Tom Davies, Sam Hobbs, Rhys Williams, Ethan Lewis, Matthew Rees, Kristian Dacey.
The Blues Life XV: Dan Fish, Aled Summerhill, Garyn Smith, Gavin Evans, Tom James, Rhys Patchell, Tavis Knoyle, Sam Hobbs, Kristian Dacey, Craig Mitchell, James Down, Jarrad Hoeata, Josh Turnbull, Ellis Jenkins, Josh Navidi (c)
So a tight game should be in store, but if we take the defensive discipline of the Leinster game, and the attacking of the Connacht game, then we can hopefully come away with the win we so badly need during this Irish tour. Safe trip to any fans travelling, Allez Les Bleus!
Cardiff record vs Munster: Won 9 Lost 17
Cardiff form: WLL Munster form: WWW
Cardiff top points scorer: Rhys Patchell (41) Munster top points scorer: Ian Keatley (23)
Cardiff top try scorer: Josh Turnbull (4) Munster top try scorer: CJ Stander (3)
Ian Davies (WRU) – Has his on and off days. Hasn’t refereed us yet this season, but Cardiff have lost both their games so far this season with Welsh referees in charge.