A packed Thomond Park greeted Cardiff Blues in the return leg of the Heineken Cup round 4 fixture.
Nick Macleod kicked off straight to touch, but Munster were penalised from the ensuing scrum. Ben Blair stepped up to the half way line but his kick didnt quite have the distance. He soon made up minutes later with a 40 yard effort.
Munster won a penalty and made their intentions clear from the start kicking for the corner. From the line-out, they spread the ball wide and although they crossed the line from a forward drive they failed to ground the ball and were awarded another scrum. Leamy picked up from the base of the scrum and this time grounded the ball with OGara converting.
This was a tactic that Munster would employ throughout the opening stages, winning line-out ball and the forwards driving on. Excellent defence from the Blues managed to keep them out and eventually Munster were pushed back to their own half. The Blues won the ball in the loose and Tom James had an opportunity to stretch his legs down the right wing. The Blues were dealt a blow however when a slip by Xavier Rush in the scrum saw Stringer hack forward and take a quick line out to Leamy who once again charged over for his second try of the match with OGara again converting. Marc Stcherbina came on for the injured Tom James and the Blues forwards did manage to make some hard yards up to the Munster 22. They were awarded a penalty and Blair stood up to convert only for OGara to do the same moments later.
A neat chip through by Shaun Payne skimmed in to the Blues corner and the Blues did well to win the ball drive forward and clear the ball. Tom Shanklin was having an excellent game, strong in defence and running back at Munster.
The Blues finally got the break through when Jamie Robinson hacked through, it was a foot race to the try-line and Robinson had enough gas to out sprint the defence and touch down for the try. Blair converted to keep Blues in the game as they approached half time. However they were dealt a huge blow when Martyn Williams was awarded a yellow card and OGara stepped up and converted the penalty.
HALF TIME MUNSTER 20 CARDIFF BLUES 13
A man down, the Blues did well in the scrum only for Munster to steal the ball in the loose. A line out in the Blues 22 saw Munster spread the ball wide only to knock it on and the 7 man Cardiff Blues scrum again did superbly to hold out Munster and clear their lines. However, when the ball was spilt out of the Blues scrum Munster managed to break away and Barry Murphy scored in the corner.
Scott Morgan moved to the second row, Deiniol Jones went off with an injured ankle and Gary Powell also came on in place of Filise. Munster continued to push forward but the Blues withstood the constant pressure. The Blues got the next score when excellent driving by Gary Powell and slick hands by Martyn Williams saw the ball float out to Ben Blair who passed out to Mark Lewis to score in the corner. The Blues nearly got another when Ben Blair broke through and draw his man; Jamie Robinson failed to hold on to the ball with the try line beckoning. Excellent try-line defence kept Munster out and Nicky Robinson who had come on for Stcherbina cleared up field but and injury to Mark Lewis meant the Blues were replacing replacements. The score stood at 25-18 with less than 10 minutes left and the Blues never gave up. The vocal home support got behind the Munster side and when the ref awarded another penalty to the Irish side they elected to kick for the corner.
A frantic finish by Munster going for the fourth try ensured that they battled away at the Blues defence but Tom Shanklin put in a try saving crunching tackle to knock the ball out of the wingers hands to keep them out. Czekaj eventually cleared to put the home side back in their own half. However, the Heineken Cup champions did work their way up to the Blues twenty two and drive over for the bonus point try. The Blues had fought valiantly and should be proud of their efforts but Munster are Heineken Cup champions for a reason.