Munster v Cardiff Blues Saturday 20 September, Musgrave Park, 7.30pm kick off
It was Munster who got the best start to the game, kicking for field position and gaining territory. When the ball did come out to the backs, Rua Tipoki put in a deft grubber kick, that enabled Niall Ronan to run onto the ball and gather to touch down after only two minutes. OGara added the conversion.
The Blues soon got on the scoreboard themselves when they were awarded a penalty for offside. From just inside his own half Blair struck the ball cleanly between the sticks.
Blair had the chance to double his tally minutes later following good build up by the Blues inside Munsters twenty two. The ball was eventually knocked on but the Blues were awarded a penalty from the scrum that Blair struck just wide.
It was an, evenly balanced, hard fought battle with Blues driving well into Munsters half and the home team spreading the ball wide and looking threatening also.
The Blues eventually took the lead following good build up work from the forwards. The ball came out, and like last week Sweeney slipped the ball inside, this time Mustoe was on hand to gather, drift past the full back, and touch down. Blair added the conversion to give the Blues a half time lead.
Half time Munster 7 Cardiff Blues 10
If Munster had a great start in the first half then the Blues had an equally good start in the second. Sweeney put in a big up and under and good chasing and pressure by Mustoe saw he ball fall into the hands of Jamie Roberts. He fed the ball to Maama Molitka who sprinted in to touch down under the posts. Blair added the conversion.
The score revived Munster who attacked straight away with Mafi and Tipoki looking very threatening for the home side in the Blues twenty two. Robin Sowden Taylor was penalised on the Blues tryline for an offence around the ruck. He was sent to the bin and from the scrum Munster spread the ball wide before OConnel crashed over under the posts. OGara added the conversion.
Munster soon made the man advantage count again. Mafi picked up the ball in his own twenty two and drifted past the defenders on the outside before passing to Howlett. The kiwi flyer did well to draw his man and feed Nial Ronan who threw a dummy and ran in to touch down for his second of the evening. OGara was again accurate with the boot.
A slip up by the Cardiff Blues cost them another try. An overthrow in the lineout on their own try line saw the ball fall into the hands of number 8 Justin Melck who dived over the line to score.
Blair slotted another penalty to cut the deficit to eight points with 10 minutes remaining. The Blues kicked for the corner with the next penalty and won line out. Despite driving well in the initial ruck the ball was knocked on and Munster cleared their lines. The Blues could have secured a losing bonus point with a last minute penalty, but Blair struck the ball wide, and it ended up being a disappointing evening despite the promising start.
15 Ben Blair 14 Richard Mustoe 13 Jamie Robinson (63off) 12 Jamie Roberts 11 Gareth Thomas 10 Ceri Sweeney 9 Jason Spice (63off) 8 Andy Powell (74off) 7 Robin Sowden Taylor 6 Maama Molitika 5 Paul Tito (c) (65off) 4 Bradley Davies 3 Taufa'ao Filise (63off) 2 Gareth Williams (35off) 1 Gethin Jenkins 16 Gary Powell (630n) 17 T Rhys Thomas (35on) 18 Scott Morgan (65on) 19 Mark Lewis (74on) 20 Darren Allinson (63on) 21 Nicky Robinson 22 Tom Shanklin (63on)
Cardiff Blues Tries Mustoe x 1 Molitika x 1 Pen Blair x 1 Con Blair x 2 DG
Munster Tries - Niall Ronan x 2 OConnell x 1 Melck x 1 Pen Con - OGara x 4 DG
Yellow Card Robin Sowden Taylor