Cardiff Blues 13 Munster 18
Friday 23 September 7.05pm kick off Cardiff City Stadium
A late change saw Xavier Rush move to the starting line up in place of Andries Pretorius who strained his hamstring during the warm up and James Down on the bench.
Munster kicked off but an early penalty after Munster had infringed in a ruck saw Sweeney’s penalty attempt just drift left. However, Keatley’s attempt from the half way was accurate giving the Irishmen an early lead.
The Blues were battering away at the Munster defence which was proving stubborn and difficult to break down. Eventually the Blues won another penalty and Sweeney again hooked it left.
It appeared that the breakthrough came following a strong charge in midfield by Hewitt, ably supported by Evans. Eventually the ball was recycled right through Sweeney and Fish, who passed to Cuthbert. The big winger was unlucky not to touch down before his foot was in touch when being tackled. The Blues however stole possession from the lineout and this time Sam Hobbs drove over. Again Gareth Simmonds the TMO decided ‘no try’ much to the dismay of the home crowd.
It was third time lucky for Sweeney with a relatively simple kick to put the Blues on the scoreboard. However, a passage of play saw Munster begin to dominate the territory and Keatley soon slotted three penalties to put the defending champions back in front.
Half time Cardiff Blues 3 Munster 12
The second half started at a much livelier pace for the Blues and following some good build up work again by Dafydd Hewitt in the centre, Paul Tito then carried on the move and offloaded in the tackle to Cuthbert. The big winger sprinted in from forty yards to touch down and Sweeney converted.
Straight from the restart the Blues were penalised for backchat and Keatley again converted to maintain his 100% record. The Blues made two substitutions with Jones and Laulala coming on for Rees and Hewitt as they looked to freshen things up as they looked to throw the ball around with Laulala making an instant impact dancing through tackles.
The Blues were penalised on the halfway line for wheeling a scrum and again Keatley proved his worth to the side with the long range effort bringing the score to 10-18. There were some mistakes creeping into the Blues game: not winning their own line outs and kicking out on the full which was proving frustrating to the fans.
The Blues nearly scored a spectacular try when they broke from inside their own half. Dan Fish showed great pace and beat the centre on the outside before drawing Johne Murphy at fullback. However, his pass wasn’t quite accurate for Cuthbert, who had to slow down and eventually the defence came across to prevent the try. It was a lively and entertaining second half with both sides looking to spread the ball.
The Blues nearly scored again, this time winning clean line out ball and Ceri Sweeney running strongly into midfield before off loading to Cuthbert who was just held short. However, the Blues won a penalty and Sweeney converted to ensure a five point gap with 10 minutes left.
There was a last gasp effort by the Blues winning a lineout five metres out but again Cuthbert was denied as it was deemed a forward pass by Fish for a score that would have bought the Blues level with a conversion to come. However, it was not to be but the Blues can take heart from a fine display in a match that they were denied three tries by the match officials decisions.
Tries Cuthbert x 1
Pen Sweeney x 1
Con Sweeney x 1
Pen Keatley x 6
Cardiff Blues 15 Dan Fish 14 Alex Cuthbert 13 Gavin Evans 12 Dafydd Hewitt (53off) 11 Richard Mustoe 10 Ceri Sweeney 9 Richie Rees (53off)
8 Xavier Rush 7 Maama Molitika 6 Michael Paterson (72off) 5 Deiniol Jones 4 Paul Tito (C) (63off) 3 Scott Andrews (70off) 2 T Rhys Thomas 1 Sam Hobbs (70off)
16 Rhys Williams 17 Nathan Trevett (70on) 18 Ryan Harford (70on) 19 James Down (63on) 20 Thomas Young (72on) 21 Lewis Jones (53on) 22 Rhys Patchell 23 Casey Laulala (53on)
Munster 15 Johne Murphy 14 Doug Howlett 13 Danny Barnes 12 Lifeimi Mafi 11 Denis Hurley 10 Ian Keatley 9 Duncan Williams
8 James Coughlan 7 Tommy O’Donnell 6 Peter O’Mahony 5 Mick O’Driscoll 4 Billy Holland 3 Stephen Archer 2 Mike Sherry 1 Wian Du Preez
16 Denis Fogarty 17 John Ryan 18 John Hayes 19 Dave Foley 20 Niall Ronan 21 Peter Stringer 22 Scott Deasy 23 Tom Gleeson
Yellow Card: Keatley