Cardiff Blues 18 Munster 24
Friday 2 November 7.05pm Cardiff Arms Park
Cardiff Blues were dealt a blow ahead of the match when they were forced into a late change, with Number 8 and Captain, Andries Pretorius, pulling out having failed to recover from a rib injury.
Robin Copeland, moved from blindside to Number 8, with Luke Hamilton starting at Number 6 and Thomas Young taking his place on the bench.
There were fireworks ahead of kick off and the Blues started with a bang. Tom Williams was proving a threat on the wing and the youngster won a penalty for the home side, in front of the posts, that Tovey converted.
Munster, however, soon struck back with former Blues favourite Casey Laulala showing his class. A deft pass to Keatley took out the defence and the Irishman did well to slip a pass to O’Donnell on the wing to score. O’Gara converted.
Munster again threatened in the Blues twenty-two but Blues’ Number 8 Robin Copeland emerged with the ball and sprinted 50 yards up field before being tackled. When the Blues looked to recycle O’Gara got in the way and was yellow carded for his efforts.
The Blues had a chance to score themselves when a kick downfield was fumbled by Munster. Gavin Evans looked to release to Tom Williams, who had nobody in front of him, but the pass went astray.
O’Gara extended the Munster lead with a simple penalty to bring the score to 3-10 at the break.
Half time Cardiff Blues 3 Munster 10
The 45th minute saw Sweeney come on for Tovey and make an instant impact. The Blues won a ball just inside the Munster twenty-two which Sweeney managed to hold, timing his pass to perfection for Hewitt to crash onto. The Blues’ centre had enough pace to round Jones to score with Sweeney getting the extras.
It was a much better performance than last week with the Blues showing great spirit and determination. Some forceful tackling was driving Munster back and the crowd got behind the team. Eventually the Blues won a penalty 35 yards out that Sweeney converted to put them back ahead.
However, some slack tackling let the Munstermen back in. Robin Copeland, who was having an excellent game, let O’Donnell through his and Ma’afu’s tackle allowing the Munster number 8 to sprint in under the posts for his second try of the evening. O’Gara converted.
The Blues hit back instantly. Copeland made amends and charged down Stringer’s clearance kick from the scrum and Lewis Jones had the pace to sprint to the ball first and touch it down over the try-line.
It would have been a tense finish but the night belonged to Munster. Munster won a clean line out ball and Stringer passed on to O’Gara. This time it was Laulala’s chance to pick a great angle and break through the midfield to score and break the Blues’ hearts. O’Gara converted to bring the final score to 18-24.
Cardiff Blues 15. Dan Fish 14. Tom Williams (57off) 13. Gavin Evans 12. Dafydd Hewitt 11. Tom James 10. Jason Tovey (45off) 9. Lewis Jones
8. Robin Copeland 7. Josh Navidi (c) 6. Luke Hamilton 5. James Down 4. Lou Reed 3. Taufa’ao Filise 2. Rhys Williams 1. Campese Ma’afu (60off)
16. Andi Kyriacou 17. Sam Hobbs (60on) 18. Ryan Harford 19. Macauley Cook 20. Thomas Young 21. Rob Lewis 22. Ceri Sweeney (45on) 23. Owen Williams (57on)
15 Felix Jones 14 Doug Howlett (c) 13 Casey Laulala 12 Ian Keatley 11 Luke O’Dea 10 Ronan O’Gara 9 Duncan Williams
8 Tommy O'Donnell 7 Sean Dougal 6 Dave O’Callaghan 5 Billy Holland 4 Dave Foley 3 Stephen Archer 2 Mike Sherry 1 Marcus Horan
16 Damien Varley 17 John Ryan 18 Wian du Preez 19 Ian Nagle 20 Paddy Butler 21 Peter Stringer 22 Danny Barnes 23 Johne Murphy
Tries Hewitt x 1 Jones x 1
Con Sweeney x 1
Pen Tovey x 1 Sweeney x 1
Tries O’Donnell x 2 Laulala x 1
Con O’Gara x 3
Pen O’Gara x 1
Yellow cards: O’Gara