Munster 39-16 Cardiff Blues

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Munster scored 26 unanswered points after half-time as Cardiff Blues could not follow up last weekend’s first win of the season, falling to a 39-16 defeat at Thomond Park.

In the week after he announced he was leaving at the end of the season, head coach Danny Wilson was left ultimately disappointed despite having gone in at half-time leading 13-16.

With eight changes made to that side which was victorious against Connacht, Wilson opted to go with Blaine Scully as captain, Jack Roberts and Olly Robinson both made their first starts, while Tomos Williams and Jarrod Evans were the half-backs of choice.

Meanwhile Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, who is also leaving his post shortly, was able to call on his returning British and Irish Lions of Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander and Conor Murray.

It was Cardiff Blues who started the brighter of the two sides, kicks from Jarrod Evans and Willis Halaholo pinning Munster inside their 22, before Evans was able to open the scoring with a penalty.

Willis Halaholo Munster
Willis Halaholo kicks for the corner

 

That sparked the hosts into life though, as Ian Keatley found Darren Sweetnam on his inside shoulder before Jaco Taute made more hard yards into Cardiff Blues red zone. A quick tap penalty from Conor Murray allowed CJ Stander to blast his way up to the try line, before Murray himself placed the ball at the foot of the post.

Keatley added the extras to make the score 7-3 after 14 minutes, and the home side attempted to extend their lead but some solid Cardiff Blues defending kept them in the game. Number eight Nick Williams was imperious at the breakdown, and won Evans the chance to close the gap to a point.

Just five minutes later Evans was back on the tee as Cardiff Blues crossed for their first try of the game. The ball was spun wide on first phase lineout attack, with Rhun Williams freeing Tom James who was brought down just short of the line.

The away side stayed patient and moved the ball through the hands back to the right wing where Steve Shingler drew the final defender and fed Josh Turnbull for his first Cardiff Blues try since October last year.

Munster were able to reign in the lead just before the half-hour mark when Olly Robinson was unfairly penalised for hands on the floor at the ruck, with Keatley notching the kick, but Evans replied a few minutes later when Niall Scannell was pinged for the same offence.

Matthew Rees Munster
Matthew Rees carries into the red wall

 

It was the hosts who were always the dangerous looking side, but some good disrupting from Cardiff Blues and poor accuracy from Munster meant they struggled to really threaten the try line.

Keatley was able to close the gap to three points again with another penalty, before a lengthy Munster assault on the Cardiff Blues 22 was ended with a knock-on, and the teams went in at half-time with the score 13-16.

After a recoup in the sheds over the break, Munster came out all guns firing and put Cardiff Blues under huge pressure. Penalties conceded by the visitors gave the Irish side a scrum five metres out, and Fa’ao Filise was under big strain.

Three penalties later the Tongan was heading for the sin bin, and although Cardiff Blues won the free-kick from the next scrum, Munster were soon back threatening the try line with prop John Ryan crashing over from short range.

Conversion kicked by Keatley, and four minutes later he was back again after Niall Scannell sliced through some disappointing Cardiff Blues tackling to fed JJ Hanrahan on his second Munster debut. 15 minutes after the break and the visitors were nine points down and with 14-men.

CJ Stander Munster
CJ Stander made his first appearance of the season

 

Cardiff Blues did try to get back into the game, half-backs Evans and Tomos Williams combining before Williams was able to pin Munster back with a kick into the corner, while Matthew Morgan and James also worked well down the left hand side.

Munster had all the cutting edge though, and were picking off Cardiff Blues defenders at will at this point. Conor Murray was able to capitalise on a half-break with a snipe down the blindside, before former Arms Park favourite Robin Copeland crashed over for the bonus point try.

Another successful conversion for Keatley, but he missed the chance to take Munster over the 40-point mark after JJ Hanrahan had grabbed his second try of the game with a break outside the 13 channel.

A late Cardiff Blues attack came to nothing as they tried to claw back a bit of pride in the second half, and the final score showed 39-16 to Munster.

Danny Wilson summed up the game to the Cardiff Blues official website, saying “At half time we were relatively pleased to have the lead away from home in Munster.

“We had put ourselves in a good position to come out in the second-half but unfortunately we contributed to our own downfall with a yellow card.”

Danny Wilson Munster
Danny Wilson has some work to do ahead of next week’s game against Dragons

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