Munster beat Cardiff Blues, go top

Date published: February 14 2015

Munster moved to the top of the Pro12 table after securing a hard-fought 33-16 win over Cardiff Blues in Cork on Saturday.

After a slow start, JJ Hanrahan opened the scoring with a penalty 11 minutes in, just a minute after striking the post with another effort.

Rhys Patchell levelled the scores for the Blues, for whom Cory Allen was impressing early on as he found space on a number of occasions.

Patchell fired the visitors ahead with another penalty in a half where all the points came from the boots of the two respective kickers.

Munster threatened more as the half wore on, Luke O'Dea breaking only to see his side concede a penalty that allowed Blues to eliminate any danger.

On the half hour mark, Patchell fired his third kick from three through to stretch the lead to nine points, but they were pegged back by Hanrahan twice before the break as the Munster man kicked six more points that saw the sides go into half-time all square in a fairly even opening 40 minutes.

But the second half had much more about it, and it didn't take long for the try-scoring to begin. Munster captain Denis Hurley was the man who got his name on the score sheet after Hanrahan was held up inches short of the line.

But Cardiff's relief lasted just seconds when Hurley forced himself over in an attack that was lit up by some neat play by Ronan O'Mahony. Hanrahan converted the try to put Munster seven points up.

On the hour mark a second try came for Munster, and it was one that had the home crowd on their feet applauding. A superb break from the hosts saw Hurly and Keith Earls storm forward together, before the ball was eventually sent out to Jack O'Donoghue who went over in his first Pro12 start. Hanrahan again made no mistake from the kick and the home side were well in control at this stage.

But Cardiff came back and ensured an intriguing finish thanks to a try from Josh Navidi. The Blues went forward in numbers and Ellis Jenkins took a heap of contact before he was able to guide his side over the line with Navidi the man with ball in hand. Patchell converted, and the score was back within a converted try of being level again.

Munster refused to let their lead go though, Hanrahan kicking another three points through with minutes to go that in truth sealed the victory. The Blues still had time to try and get that losing bonus point try, but could not get the ball and Munster sealed it in the last minute with their third try.

The impressive O'Mahony got a deserved try for his efforts in the 80 minutes, after a number of passes eventually found their way to the number 11 who stormed over.

The scorers:

For Munster:

Tries: Hurley, O'Donoghue, O'Mahony
Cons: Hanrahan 3
Pens: Hanrahan 4

For Cardiff Blues:

Try: Navidi
Con: Patchell
Pens: Patchell 3

Munster: 15 JJ Hanrahan, 14 Luke O'Dea, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Denis Hurley (c), 11 Ronan O'Mahony, 10 Rory Scannell, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Jack O'Donoghue, 7 Dave O'Callaghan, 6 Sean Dougall, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 John Ryan.
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Shane Buckley, 20 Paddy Butler, 21 Neil Cronin, 22 Darren Sweetnam, 23 Ivan Dineen.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Richard Smith, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Lucas Amorosino, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Manoa Vosawai, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Macauley Cook, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Matthew Rees (c), 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Thomas Davies, 18Taufa'ao Filise, 19 Miles Normandale, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Tom Isaacs

Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)