Munster 24 Cardiff Blues 13
Friday 11 September 2009 7.05pm kick off
The Blues travelled to the home of the reigning Magners League champions, with both teams looking to get their first win of the 2009/10 campaign.
Blair kicked off but it was Munster who started the strongest, counter attacking with a chip through for Howlett to chase. Sweeney did well to reach the ball first but was penalised and Manning was just wide with his penalty attempt.
The Blues then lost two line outs on the bounce and were putting pressure on themselves with kicks not finding touch and some sloppy defensive play in their own half. They were also losing ball in the turnover. However, with 20 minutes gone it was still 0-0.
Paul Tito was penalised at the fringes of a ruck and Manning had his second chance at goal. This time he was successful. Minutes later Howlett was penalised for holding on, on the edge of the twenty two and Blair leveled the scores. The Blue lineout wasn't improving and they were again penalised and Manning struck a long distance effort to restore the Munster lead.
Munster attacked again, taking a quick penalty and linking well before chipping through. Leigh Halfpenny, who had huge amount of pressure on him, gathered well and looked to have beaten 5 men with a jinking run from his own tryline, only for the referee to call him back for a scrum. Munster capitalised with Marcus Horan crashing over from a ruck. Manning converted and soon added another penalty to bring the score to 16-3.
The Blues struck back with a superb effort. Ben Blair put in a neat chip and gathered well. He managed to offload to Rhys Thomas who slipped a lovely pass to Xavier Rush. The big Kiwi changed his angle and wrong footed the defence, before showing great pace to touch down. Blair added the conversion.
Cardiff Blues 10 Munster 16
Early in the second half, Munster were penalised for holding on and from 40 yards Blair struck a well taken penalty to narrow the Munster lead.
However, the Blues were dealt a blow when Molitika was sent to the bin for a late tackle on Manning, who got back to his feet to convert the penalty.
Munster attacked again and came to within inches of the Blues try-line, but valiant Blues defence kept them out. However, from the scrum Munster worked the blind side well and Denis Leamy powered over. Manning missed the conversion.
The Blues made a number of substitutions late on with Powell, Rees, Morgan, Williams, Norton Knight and James all coming on. Despite the fresh legs they were still finding it hard to break the Munster defence, until from a drop out twenty two, Rush again gathered the ball and showed he was still full of life 75 minutes in with a great 40 yard run all the way into the Munster twenty two. Again Munster turned the ball over and cleared.
It was an improved performance and the Blues battled hard, but some keys areas let them down.
15 Ben Blair 14 Leigh Halfpenny 13 Gareth Thomas 12 Dafydd Hewitt 70 off 11Chris Czekaj 10 Ceri Sweeney 70 off 9 Gareth Cooper 65off
1John Yapp 2 T Rhys Thomas 60 off 3 Taufaao Filise 60 off 4 Deiniol Jones 5 Paul Tito (c) 70 off 6 Mamma Molitika 7 Robin Sowden 65 off Taylor 8 Xavier Rush
16 Gary Powell 60 on 17 Gareth Williams 60 on 18 Scott Morgan 70 on 19 Andy Powell 65on 20 Richie Rees 65on 21 Sam Norton Knight 70 on 22 Dafydd James 70 on
Referee Peter Allan (SRU)
Try Rush x 1
Penalty Blair x 1
Con Blair x 1
Try Horan x 1 Leamy x 1
Penalty Manning x 4
Con Manning x 1