Munster Rugby 39 - 16 Cardiff Blues
Sat 30 September 13:30 Thomond Park Att: 13,558 Ref: Quinton Immelman Guinness Pro14

Preview: Munster v Cardiff Blues

Fri 29 Sep 2017 14:46 Preview: Munster v Cardiff Blues
Danny Wilson’s side secured a nail-biting victory over Connacht last weekend, as Jarrod Evans slotted a tricky conversion in the closing stages to seal the Blues’ first win of the season.

Meanwhile, the Blues’ Conference A opponents, Munster, who were runners-up in the Championship last season, will look to get back on to winning ways after a 37-10 defeat at Glasgow last Friday.

Rassie Erasmus’ side have three victories to their name, against Benetton Rugby, Toyota Cheetahs and Ospreys, but came unstuck against a Finn Russell-inspired Warriors side at Scotstoun last week.

Both sides have important derby fixtures coming up in round six and will look to build momentum ahead of those vital clashes.

Eight changes have been made to the Cardiff Blues side that secured victory in Galway, with Blaine Scully set to captain the team on his return from injury.

The USA international replaces Alex Cuthbert on the wing, and is set to make his first appearance of the season having recovered from an elbow injury.

Man-of-the-match and double try scorer, Willis Halaholo, keeps his place in midfield but is partnered with Jack Roberts, as the former Leicester Tigers centre is set to make his competitive debut for the region.

Short term loan signing Olly Robinson, is another change, as he makes his first start for the region following positive impact off the bench at Sportsground.

Other changes sees George Earle, Matthew Rees and James Down come into the starting line-up, as well as a complete change at half-back, with youngsters Tomos Williams and Jarrod Evans replacing Lloyd Williams and Steven Shingler respectively.

Meanwhile, Munster have been boosted by the return of three of their British and Irish Lions contingent as Rassie Erasmus makes nine changes following last week’s defeat to Glasgow.

Peter O’Mahony captains the side at Limerick, with CJ Stander and Conor Murray also included.

Internationals Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell and John Ryan all make their first starts of the season in the front row, while former Cardiff Blues favourite, Robin Copeland, lines up in the second row.

Ian Keatly partners Murray at half-back, while Jaco Taute comes in to link up with Rory Scannell in midfield.

JJ Hanarahan returns to the Munster squad for the first time since 2015, following a two year spell at Northampton Saints.

What They Said

Matt Sherratt was delighted with Cardiff Blues' willingness to attack during the crucial final stages of last week's two-point victory over Connacht.

Sherratt insists the attitude of looking to play positive, free-flowing rugby proved the difference and will reap rewards in the long-term.

"After the manner of the defeat the week before, it was one of those where you sit there in the stands thinking, surely not two weeks on the trot," said Sherratt.

"But it was good. Jarrod trains well and has been working hard on his kicking game.

"The last 10 minutes of Connacht were quite nerve-wrecking to be honest, because we always needed another score to win.

"The really pleasing part was, it would've been easy in that final five to tighten up when we made a line-break through Willis and gone a little bit more blunt and get the forwards more involved.

"But credit to Jarrod and to Willis for calling the play and we managed to put three or four passes together to score.

"I was pleased with our mentality there. Obviously, defensively we were excellent, but 77 minutes in, to back ourselves to put the ball through the hands and get some decent running lines is the manner we need to play. 

"A bit more wide and more passes, we're not a team that's going to outmuscle the opposition.

"We've got to keep trying to get better each week but certainly having a win gives you a spring in your step at the start of the week and makes you look forward to the next game a bit more. 

"We tried to win the game rather than relying on Connacht losing the game. It would've been easy in that final three or four minutes to have tightened up and keep the ball, hoping for a Connacht mistake.

"What we did is what we're good at - make the passes and moved the ball.

"The message to the players is sometimes it will work, sometimes it won't, but we're better at that so lets stay positive and try to win games rather than rely on the opposition."
Rhun Williams, who keeps his place following last week's victory, insists Cardiff Blues' victory over Connacht has given the squad a boost ahead of another tricky away trip to take on Munster at Thomond Park on Saturday.

Williams, who was named Cardiff Blues' Discovery of the Season in 2016/17, has seen a real zip in training this week as the squad turn all their focus towards the clash against Rassie Erasmus' side.

"It makes a huge difference going into the new training week, having won the previous weekend, but all the boys know we have to put our heads down and put all our focus now on the Munster match on Saturday," said the Wales U20's international.

"No doubt that the win over Connacht have given all the boys and the coaches a massive boost.

"The win, which we had to dig in deep for, has seen more energy and enthusiasm in training and within the squad itself.

"The boys were all hungry for that first win of the season and we go into every game looking for the win. 

"We will take each game as it comes, so we will concentrate on Munster before moving ahead to next week's derby, but of course another win this week would help us to continue building momentum within the squad in terms of performances and results.

"You know when you've got a trip away to Ireland that it's going to be a tough one, whichever team you face, and we'll prepare accordingly as we expect another tough game out there.

"Every game in this championship is tough, there are no poor teams and you have to be on your game every single time.

"As a group, we are very close in terms of players and staff, and go into every game fighting for each other."

Munster: Andrew Conway; Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Robin Copeland, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony – capt., Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Liam O’Connor, Stephen Archer, Mark Flanagan, Sean McCarthy, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Chris Farrell.

Cardiff Blues: Rhun Williams; Blaine Scully (capt), Jack Roberts, Willis Halaholo, Tom James; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Brad Thyer, Matthew Rees, Taufa'ao Filise, George Earle, James Down, Josh Turnbull, Olly Robinson, Nick Williams.

Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Corey Domachowski, Keiron Assiratti, Seb Davies, Macauley Cook, Lloyd Williams, Steven Shingler, Matthew Morgan