Cardiff Blues hold off Munster fightback

Date published: September 9 2016

Cardiff Blues staved off a late fightback from Munster before claiming a hard-fought 24-23 victory in Cork on Friday.

The first half saw some marvellous running rugby as the sides took the battle to their opponents. However, it was Tom James' two tries cancelling out a marvellous score by Andrew Conway to give Cardiff Blues the lead.

Munster were dominant in the opening 20 minutes of the second half, with Ian Keatley scoring a penalty and a try from David Kilcoyne. Nontheless, it was the Blues' only score of the second half which secured a 23-24 victory over an impressive Munster in an epic encounter. 

The first score of the game was scored in the eighth minute, Cardiff?s James skipped through the hosts' defence before touching down under the posts for his 50th Blues try. 

Gareth Anscombe converted to establish an early seven-point lead. Munster hit back almost immediately, when in the tenth minute, full-back Conway latched onto a sensational off-load by Darren Sweetman to cross the whitewash. 

The conversion was added by Ian Keatley to bring parity to the scoreboard. Anscombe kicked the visitors into the lead once more after 15 minutes, the Welsh international notching a penalty to take the score to 10-7.

On the half-hour mark, Keatley kicked the sides level with a penalty after Blues were caught offside. James scored his second try of the evening after 36 minutes, good work by Rey Lee-Lo played the Welshman in to dart over the line, re-establishing the visitors' lead.

Anscombe added the extras meaning that his side would go into half-time holding a 10-17 lead. The first points of the second half went the way of the hosts as Keatley scored a penalty after 53 minutes. 

Munster took the lead after 61 minutes, a spell of unrelenting pressure rewarded as Kilcoyne burrowed over the line to score a try. Keatley converted, taking the score to 20-17. 

Cardiff re-took the lead with 68 minutes on the clock, Dan Fish providing the finishing touch to a lightning attacking move, touching down for the game's fifth try. 

Replacement kicker Steve Schingler added the extras to make the score 20-24. Keatley scored a penalty after 72 minutes to cut the deficit to just one point and set up a nail-biting finish.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Conway, Kilcoyne
Cons: Keatley 2
Pens: Keatley 3

For Cardiff Blues: 
Tries: James 2, Fish
Cons: Anscombe 2, Shingler
Pen: Anscombe

Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Dan Goggin, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Ronan O’Mahony, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Jack O’Donoghue, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Dave O’Callaghan, 5 Billy Holland (c), 4 Dave Foley, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Duncan Casey, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Brian Scott, 19 Donnacha Ryan, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Tomás O’Leary, 22 Cian Bohane, 23 Stephen Fitzgerald

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Corey Allen, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11  Tom James, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Macauley Cook, 4 George Earle, 3 Taufa’ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Gethin Jenkins (c)
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 S Andrews, 19 Josh Turnbull, 20 Sam Warburton, 21 Loyd Williams, 22 Steve Shingler, 23 Matthew Morgan

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Craig Evans (Wales), Nigel Correll (Ireland)
TMO: Gordon Black (Ireland)