MUNSTER 39 CARDIFF BLUES 16 - Munster bounced back from their Glasgow horror show with a bonus-point victory against Cardiff Blues as JJ Hanrahan marked his second debut for the province with two second-half tries on Saturday, writes Simon Lewis.
Rassie Erasmus's side had suffered their first Guinness PRO14 defeat of the season with a 37-15 defeat to the Warriors in Scotland eight days earlier but they atoned for a poor performance with a comprehensive win at Thomond Park.
Hanrahan's points came after his introduction off the bench for his first start since re-signing for his home province after a two-year stint at Northampton Saints while there also tries for returning British & Irish Lion Conor Murray, prop John Ryan and lock Robin Copeland, whose 68th-minute score against his old club brought up the bonus point against their Conference A rivals.
Munster had trailed 13-16 after a lively opening half on a bright afternoon in Limerick which had seen Cardiff Blues lose debutant centre Jack Roberts substituted after just 13 minutes and the home side suffer its own midfield casualty as Jaco Taute left the field on the back of the stretcher cart six minutes later.
Rassie Erasmus gave the province's three Lions their seasonal debuts, captain Peter O'Mahony fellow back-rower CJ Stander and scrum-half Murray providing a welcome boost after their side's big round-four defeat in Glasgow.
All made their presence felt but none more than Murray, whose 13th-minute try, scored against the post pads, gave Munster the lead after an opening penalty from Cardiff Blues fly-half Jarrod Evans.
The try stemmed from a quick tap penalty taken by Stander in the left corner, hooker Niall Scannell taking the recycled ball to the posts with a driving carry and Murray grabbing five points through a crowded ruck.
Ian Keatley, starting at number 10 in place of Tyler Bleyendaal, kicked the conversion and added two penalties before half-time, but not before Blues flanker Josh Turnbull had scored a try at the other end as Murray was caught in a two-on-one in the corner.
Evans converted from wide out on the right and his two penalties gave the visitors a three-point advantage at the interval.
Munster's scrum has been dominant all season, even against Glasgow and concerted pressure on the Cardiff set-piece produced more dividends at the start of the second half as three successive penalties resulted in a yellow card for veteran Blues tighthead prop Taufa'ao Filise.
A fourth penalty followed but no penalty try from South African referee Quinton Immelman and Cardiff were off the hook when the official gave them a free-kick at the next engagement.
It was a brief respite, though, John Ryan going over in open play shortly after, Keatley converting again as Munster moved into a 20-16 lead they would not relinquish.
Hanrahan's first try came four minutes later in the 56th, a minute after he had replaced Andrew Conway at full-back, Keatley's conversion making it a nine-point haul for Munster against short-handed Cardiff.
Copeland's try was also converted by Keatley, bringing his tally to two penalties and four conversions, though his perfect record off the tee was blemished with a missed touchline conversion after Hanrahan grabbed his second and Munster's fifth as they kept the Blues scoreless in a rampant second half.
MUNSTER: A Conway (JJ Hanrahan, 55); D Sweetnam, J Taute (C Farrell, 19), R Scannell, A Wootton; I Keatley, C Murray (D Williams, 72); D Kilcoyne (L O’Connor, 71), N Scannell (R Marshall, 56), J Ryan (S Archer, 61); R Copeland (M Flanagan, 70), B Holland; P O’Mahony – captain (S McCarthy, 74), T O’Donnell, CJ Stander.
CARDIFF BLUES: R Williams (M Morgan, 61); B Scully - captain, J Roberts (S Shingler, 13), W Halaholo, T James (K Assiratti, 48-59); J Evans, T Williams (L Williams, 71); B Thyer (C Domachowski, 70), M Rees, T Filise (K Assiratti, 59); G Earle (S Davies, 63), J Down; J Turnbull, O Robinson, N Williams (M Cook, 61).
Yellow card: Filise 48-58