Munster 16 Cardiff Blues 9
The match bad been brought forward by two and a half hours to avoid the pitch freezing and it was the Blues who got the early lead through a long distance Dan Parks penalty following an infringement by Mafi.
Munster had a chance to strike back early on when they won a lineout five metres out , however some firm Blues defence kept them out before Parks cleared. O’Gara was controlling things at outside half, putting in cross field kicks, and also releasing his backs.
The Blues first opportunity cam when Mustoe broke down the right, gaining good ground, and the Blues were attacking well into the Munster twenty two. Richie Rees went on a trademark run from the base of a ruck and slipped a neat pass to Filise to charge to within yards of the try line. As the Blues looked to recycle, Buckley dived over and killed the ball, and earned a yellow card for his troubles.
Parks converted the simple penalty to give the Blues a six point lead. However, O’Gara got Munster on the scoreboard with a penalty just before half time following a late charge on the Irish fly half by Ben White, who had come on to replace Sam Warburton.
Munster 3 Cardiff Blues 6
Straight from the restart the Blues started strongly, with the ball going through the backs to Czekaj, who put in a neat kick that he gathered inside the Munster twenty-two. Munster turned the ball over but Quinlan failed to clear. Paterson gathered and shipped it to Laulala who passed on to Shanklin. The Welsh centre raced for the corner but as he went to touch down the ball bounced off the knee of O’Driscoll and Munster escaped.
The Blues were putting good pressure on the Irishmen but it was Munster who got the next score. In typical Munster fashion they picked and drove effectively upfield until they were camped inside the Blues twenty two. Eventually they spread the ball left and Murphy gained good ground, Quinlan was on his shoulder managed to stretch his arm over to touch down. O’Gara converted and slotted another to give the home side a 13-6 lead.
The Blues had a chance to strike back following some good build up play into the Munster half. They recycled the ball and spread it right through Parks, Rush and Shanklin who fed Tito on the wing. The Blues captain sprinted for the line but was just forced into touch just yards from the tryline.
Just minutes later the Blues had another chance. Parks put in a superb cross field kick that was just put of reach of Paterson who managed to get his boot to the ball, but Murphy gathered and touched down. Parks did narrow the deficit with a penalty and with the mist descending in the last minutes Parks was just wide with a drop goal attempt.
However, O’Gara slotted a late penalty to seal the win and the Blues left with a losing bonus point in a match that they possibly could have won.
15. Chris Czekaj 14. Richard Mustoe 13. Casey Laulala 12. Tom Shanklin 11. Gavin Evans 10. Dan Parks 9. Richie Rees (69off)
8. Xavier Rush 7. Sam Warburton (33off) 6. Mamma Molitika 5. Paul Tito 4. Michael Paterson 3. Taufa'ao Filise (78off) 2. Gareth Williams (160ff22on)1. Gethin Jenkins
16. Rhys Williams (16on22off) 17. Tom Davies 18. Sam Hobbs (78on) 19. Bryn Griffiths 20. Ben White (33on) 21. Tom Slater (69on) 22. Ceri Sweeney 23. Dafydd Hewitt
Munster: 15 J Murphy; 14 L Mafi, 13 K Earls, 12 S Tuitipou, 11 D Hurley; 10 R O'Gara, 9 P Stringer;
1 W du Preez, 2 D Varley, 3 T Buckley; 4 M O'Driscoll, 5 D O'Casllaghan; 6 A Quinlan, 7 N Ronan, 8 D Leamy captain. Replacements:
16 M Sherry, 17 D Ryan, 18 J Hayes, 19 P O’Connell, 20 D Wallace, 21 T O’Leary, 22 P Warwick, 23 B Murphy
Pen Parks x 3
Tries Quinlan x 1
Pen O’Gara x 3
Referee: Alain Rolland