Munster put a poor performance away to Glasgow behind them to dispatch Cardiff by 39-16 at Thomond Park on Saturday. The home side was strengthened by the return of their three Lions, CJ Stander, Conor Murray and captain Peter O’Mahony.
Guinness PRO14 Munster 39 Cardiff Blues 16
Cardiff started well and led by 16-13 at the break. Munster spluttered and suffered a bad blow when Jaco Taute was stretchered off midway through the half. Jarrod Evans opened the scoring for the visitors after 7 minutes with a penalty when Darren Sweetnam was ruled offside by South African referee Quinton Immelman.
The home side was stung into action when Jaco Taute, CJ Stander and Rory Scannell combined to help Conor Murray touchdown at the base of the post in the 12th minute. Ian Keatley converted to make it 7-3.
Taute seemed to be in agony minutes later when he was carried to the dressing room. Nick Williams won another penalty for the Welshmen and Evans’ split the posts in the 19th minute to put the minimum between the sides.
The visitors drove on and were rewarded when Steve Shingler sent Josh Turnbull over for a try in the corner on 23 minutes. Evans added the extras to give Cardiff a 13-7 lead.
An Ian Keatley penalty in the 28th minute was cancelled out by Evans on the 30th. Keatley finished the first half scoring his second penalty five minutes from the break leaving Munster 6pts in arrears. Cardiff left the field as half-time time leaders, 16-10, and may have been lulled into a false sense of security as they were completely overrun by the Munster men in the second half.
Munster’s scrum was dominant after the break and for the first ten minutes, Cardiff were pinned back in their own corner after four consecutive penalties. The referee finally lost patience and sent tight head Taufa’ao Filise to the bin, the Blues first yellow card of the season.
The home crowd sensed a try with the continuous pressure but Munster were penalised and Cardiff had the chance to clear their lines. Munster regrouped, driving at the opposition for seven phases before John Ryan seized the chance to dive across the whitewash in the 51st minute and Keatley added the conversion, 17-16.
Following his return to Thomond Park after two years with Northampton Saints, JJ Hanrahan was sprung from the bench after 55 minutes to replace Andrew Confullbackll back and went on to bag a brace of tries. He was only on the field a minute when Rory Scannell sent him through for his first try, a cause of great celebration on the field and in the terraces. Keatley converted to make it 24-16.
Robin Copeland scored the home side’s bonus point fourth try after good support plays from new signing Chris Farrell in the 67th minute which Keatley converted to make it 31-16.
Hanrahan added his second try in the corner after 71 minutes to end a good move by Conor Murray and Ian Keatley who was awarded man of the match with two penalties and four conversions, even if he didn’t convert the last try.
MUNSTER: Andrew Conway; Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Robin Copeland, Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander. Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Liam O’Connor, Stephen Archer, Mark Flanagan, Sean McCarthy, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Chris Farrell.
CARDIFF BLUES: Rhun Williams; Blaine Scully (capt), Jack Roberts, Willis Halaholo, Tom James; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Brad Thyer, Matthew Rees, Taufa’ao Filise, George Earle, James Down, Josh Turnbull, Olly Robinson, Nick Williams. Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Corey Domachowski, Keiron Assiratti, Seb Davies, Macauley Cook, Lloyd Williams, Steven Shingler, Matthew Morgan.
REFEREE: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)