Munster Rugby 54 - 13 Cardiff Blues
Sat 08 February 19:15 Thomond Park Att: 13,821 Ref: Guiseppe Vivarini Pro12

Munster Rugby 54 Cardiff Blues 13

Sat 8 Feb 2014 20:50 Munster Rugby 54 Cardiff Blues 13
Home prop Dave Kilcoyne put Munster ahead early on before a slick response saw Wales international centre Owen Williams clinically finish a brilliant run from Harry Robinson.

A kicking duel between JJ Hanrahan and Gareth Davies the rest of the first half saw Munster take a 19-13 lead into the changing rooms.

The second half saw Munster’s power up front begin to tell and against 14-men – after a yellow card against Patrick Palmer - they were awarded a penalty try while Blues were left frustrated by the decision to not go to uncontested scrums.

With the numerical advantage the hosts cut loose with Simon Zebo and newcomer Gerhard van den Heever scoring in quick succession to wrap up the bonus point.

Two late home tries put the final flourish on the score line for Munster who remain clear at the top of the league standings.

Blues made several changes to the side that defeated Harlequins in the cup last time out, with Harry Robinson, Chris Czekaj, Lloyd Williams, Sam Hobbs, Kristian Dacey, Chris Dicomidis and Robin Copeland, against the club he will join this summer, all back.

The league leaders included fit-again British & Irish Lions ace Zebo at full back and he was straight into the action as he fielded a high bomb kick from Gareth Davies and fed Hanrahan to drill Blues back inside their own 22.

A high tempo start from the home side saw Denis Hurley bounce tackles while Johne Murphy tried to escape down the left wing. A cross field kick almost unlocked Blues before a penalty, for not rolling away, gave Hanrahan an easy kick to open the scoring.

Blues first attack of the game saw Lloyd Williams snipe around the fringes and Filo Paulo carry with power down the middle. The visitors forced a penalty of their own on the floor and Davies nudged over the points.

Macauley Cook carried strongly and Dan Fish produced a slick kick up the touchline as Blues looked to impress in the opening stages until a penalty for not releasing saw the momentum swing down the other end of the field.

Home captain James Coughlan took full advantage as he forced a gap and when the ball was picked up close to the line by prop Kilcoyne he neatly burrowed over hard and low from close range.

A brilliant response, though, from Blues came within two minutes. A superb jinking run from Robinson saw him tear around his opposite number before drawing the final man and popping the pass to Owen Williams to score. Davies added the extras from the touchline to level the scores.

Munster responded with a big scrum on Blues ball forcing the turnover and put in and, when Copeland was harshly penalised at the breakdown for side entry, it was Hanrahan who put the home side back ahead a quarter into the game.

The home side looked dangerous in open play and turnover ball almost worked for them as they went wide right and Casey Laulala fed Murphy to rattle up close before Blues regrouped. However, a third penalty of the night from Hanrahan extended the lead to six points.

Davies reduced the advantage to three points on the half hour, which was reward for Blues after a sustained period of phase play saw Ellis Jenkins and Kristian Dacey prominent ball carriers.

A poor clearing kick out on the full gave Munster one final attack before the break and they made it count as yet another penalty awarded by referee Giuseppe Vivarini gave Hanrahan his 14th point of the night and the home side a 19-13 half-time lead.

Blues made a half-time change, with James Down into the fray, and the visitors started the second half brightly as Owen Williams dived through a gap before a knock on halted promising go forward.

Munster were building on the platform of a powerful set piece as a scrum against the head looked to let their backs loose until a poor pass to former Blues man Laulala gave Owen Williams the chance to force the centre to spill ball.

Chris Czekaj’s high up and under forced another mistake while Blues had hearts in mouth when Davies saw his clearing kick charged down only for the fly half to react first to scoop up loose possession.

A penalty, for pulling down a driving lineout, saw Munster opt to kick to the corner and not he posts to try and strike a decisive blow before the hour. The initial drive was successfully repelled before the home forwards went to work around the fringes.

Pressure was building and a series of penalties at scrum time against Blues finally paid off after several minutes for the hosts as referee Vivarini sin binned Patrick Palmer. And the next scrum saw him go under the posts to award a penalty try.

With the extra man Munster opened up and twice Barry O’Mahony went close before a juggling Zebo scored.

Moments later a cross field kick picked out Gerhard van den Heever all on his own, with Blues stretched trying to compensate for numbers, to score his first try for the Irish side.

The icing on the cake for the home side came in the remaining minutes as a mistake in midfield was hacked forward by Andrew Conway and he won the race to his kick ahead before the final move of the game saw CJ Stander go over.



04m Hanrahan p 3-0

07m G Davies p 3-3

11m Kilcoyne t Hanrahan c 10-3

13m O Williams t G Davies c 10-10

22m Hanrahan p 13-10

27m Hanrahan p 16-10

30m G Davies p 16-13

40m Hanrahan p 19-13

61m Penalty t Hanrahan c 26-13

65m Zebo t Hanrahan c 33-13

67m Van den Heever t Hanrahan c 40-13

77m Conway t Hanrahan c 47-13

80m Stander t Hanrahan c 54-13

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Harry Robinson, 13 Owen Williams (Jones 75), 12 Gavin Evans (Tuifua 72), 11 Chris Czekaj (T Davies 59 (Czekaj 69)), 10 Gareth Davies (Humberstone 69), 9 Lloyd Williams; 1 Sam Hobbs, 2 Kristian Dacey (Breeze 59), 3 Benoit Bourrust (Palmer 49), 4 Chris Dicomidis (Down 40), 5 Filo Paulo, 6 Macauley Cook (Hamilton 76), 7 Ellis Jenkins, 8 Robin Copeland

Replacements: 16 Marc Breeze, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Patrick Palmer, 19 James Down, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Simon Humberstone, 23 Isaia Tuifua