Deadly Cardiff Blues open up Munster

Munster’s charge towards the top four of the Pro12 hit a speed bump as they slipped to a 37-28 defeat at Cardiff Blues.

Deadly Cardiff Blues open up Munster

An early Darren Sweetnam score and a penalty from Ian Keatley looked to have Munster heading for a third straight victory, but Danny Wilson’s men turned on the style to claim victory.

Munster hooker Mike Sherry scored in between efforts from Matthew Rees and Garyn Smith, before Rhys Patchell wrapped up a bonus-point victory for the hosts.

Jack O’Donoghue crossed for a late consolation, but the defeat keeps Anthony Foley’s men four points behind provincial rivals Ulster in the chase for the playoff spots.

Munster raced out of the blocks at the BT Sport Arms Park. Some destructive ball carrying has the hosts pinned back immediately, before Ellis Jenkins ended the flowing move with a shoulder charge at a ruck.

Outside-half Ian Keatley smacked the resulting penalty over from right in front of the posts to give his side a 3-0 lead. It got even better inside the first ten minutes when wing Darren Sweetnam dived over at the corner.

Centre Rory Scannell burst through the defensive line before the ball was worked wide to his centre colleague Francis Saili. The twice capped All Black then sent a perfectly weighted pass to fix the defence, and Sweetnam squeezed in at the corner.

The Blues came fighting back with a Rhys Patchell penalty, but then gave Anthony Foley’s men a huge let-off on 24 minutes.

Patchell darted through and looked to have scored, but instead offloaded to full-back Dan Fish, who dropped the ball over the line.

Just when Munster looked to have weathered the storm, barnstorming no.8 Josh Navidi made the breakthrough.

He splintered the first line of defence with a powerful break, before feeding lock Cook, who waltzed over. Patchell landed the conversion to put the Blues 10-8 ahead.

With the clock running down in the first half, Munster opted to kick a penalty to the corner.

They almost managed to wrestle their way over, but it was the Blues who ran it half-time with a two-point advantage.

Cardiff maintained their ascendancy after the interval.

Patchell’s second penalty of the evening extended the lead to 13-8, but was soon cancelled out with a long-range effort from Keatley.

However, Cardiff’s powerful pack developed a destructive maul to earn a penalty, which was sent to the corner.

Blues captain Rees delivered an accurate throw, before he received the ball back to go over at the corner.

This ding-doing battle was turned on its head again as Munster mimicked the Blues with a driving lineout from a penalty.

Hooker Sherry eventually emerged from the bottom of a heap of players to claim the try, with Keatley’s conversion cutting the gap to two points.

But the Blues’ nine-point advantage was restored less than two minutes later. Replacement prop Dave Kilcoyne returned the kickoff with vigour, but was stripped of the ball by Smith, who raced home. Patchell maintained his perfect kicking record to make it 27-18.

And the dead-eye kicker got amongst the tries as he raced over at the corner and converted his own score, to put the match beyond Munster’s reach.

Munster were denied a losing bonus-point with the last act of the game as Jarrod Evans’ kick made it 37-28.

Cardiff Blues scorers:

Tries: M Cook, M Rees, G Smith, R Patchell. Cons: R Patchell (4) Penalties R Patchell (2), J Evans.

CARDIFF BLUES:

D Fish, A Summerhill, G Smith, R Lee-Lo, B Scully (J Evans 65), R Patchell, L Williams (L Jones 75); B Thyer (T Davies 70), M Rees (capt) (K Dacey 45), S Ma’afu (T Filise 40), C Dolan (M Vosawi 69), J Turnbull, M Cook, E Jenkins, J Navidi.

Not used:

L Reed, G Evans.

Munster scorers:

Tries: D Sweetnam, M Sherry, J O’Donoghue. Cons: J Williams (2). Penalties: I Keatley, J Holland.

MUNSTER:

A Conway, D Sweetnam, F Saili, R Scannell (D Johnston 77), R O’Mahony; I Keatley (J Holland 62), D Williams (C Sheridan 72); J Cronin (D Kilcoyne 53), M Sherry (N Scannell 53), J Ryan (S Archer 59); D Foley (S McCarthy 77), B Holland (capt); J O’Donoghue, D O’Callaghan, R Copeland (J Coghlan 53).

Referee:

David Williamson (IRFU).

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