Munster Rugby claim bonus point win over Cardiff Blues in Cork

Credit: @Munsterrugby

Munster Rugby hosted the Cardiff Blues at Irish Independent Park, Cork, on Friday night, knowing that a home victory and an Ulster win against Glasgow, would possibly see the southern province go to the top of Conference A.

Johann van Graan’s men ensured the visitors did not achieve their fifth win against Munster in Cork in the Guinness Pro14 as they ran out impressive bonus-point winners on a 45-21 scoreline.

It was the Blues who opened the scoring, however, as Tomos Williams streched over the whitewash despite the best defensive efforts of Conor Murray, Darren Sweetnam and Tyler Bleyendaal. The Welsh side’s 7th minute five-pointer was converted by Gareth Anscombe, who was moved to No. 10 from fullback due to the two pre-game changes to the visitors’ starting team; the second change saw Matthew Morgan play in the no. 15 jersey.

Within five minutes Munster got themselves on the scoreboard when Bleyendaal, who had missed a 4th minute penalty attempt from just inside the Cardiff 10m line when the ball fell short of the posts in the strong wind, kicked a penalty from inside the Cardiff 22m line, reducing the deficit to 4 points, Munster 3 Cardiff 7.

Centre Chris Farrell barged over from close range in the 17th minute, following on from a Peter O’Mahony steal, to edge the home side ahead for the first time in the game. An easy conversion for Bleyendaal meant the kicker had his second successful-scoring kick to put Munster 10-7 ahead.

The home side doubled their number of tries scored on 30 minutes when this time South African-born Jean Kleyn crashed over from close range. A difficult conversion attempt from the touchline saw Bleyendaal slot the two-pointer over for a 17-7 scoreline.

Blues’ winger Aled Summerhill showed his pace down the wing as Munster’s attempted tackles fell away one-by-one allowing the Cardiff speedster touch down near the posts. Gareth Anscombe’s second conversion of the night narrowed the gap before the interval, leaving Munster 17-14 ahead at halftime.

Within minutes of the restart Gareth Anscombe had a penalty attempt which could have levelled the scores, but his effort was taken across the posts by the strong Irish Independent Park wind, and wide.

Munster weren’t alert enough to a quick tap and go from Tomos Williams who then found Rey Lee-Lo unmarked, allowing the big centre touch down as the home side scrambled back in desperation. Anscombe’s conversion meant the Blues were 21-17 in front.

The hosts immediately went back down the field with some determination and replacement CJ Stander touched down on his birthday, as this ever-changing game saw the men in red go back into the lead. Tyler Bleyendaal’s third successful conversion kick gave Johann van Graan’s side a three-point lead 24-21, with under half an hour to play.

Munster kept the scoreboard ticking over from then to the 80th minute with three further tries. The referee needed the assistance of his TMO before confirming Conor Murray’s bonus-point try on 60 minutes. The Munster No. 9, who has completed HIA protocols earlier in the game, touched down just over the line at the base of a ruck despite the mass of Cardiff bodies attempting to prevent him. Tyler Bleyendaal’s conversion pushed his side into a ten-point advantage, 31-21, as the game entered the final quarter.

Andrew Conway got in on the try-scoring fest when a long fast wide ball from left to right, which involved Chris Farrell and Mike Haley, found the winger in isolation near the touchline, alllowing him score the five-pointer. Another difficult, but successful, touchline conversion attempt from New Zealander Bleyendaal pushed Munster into a healthy 38-21 lead, with the game inside the remaining 15 minutes.

Sammy Arnold was only moments on field when he scored yet another Munster try before the final whistle. With JJ Hanrahan converting, Munster ran out comfortable 45-21 winners.

Final score: Munster Rugby 45 Cardiff Blues 21.


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