Friday 18 August 2017

We still have plenty of room for improvement - Cronin

Tyler Bleyendaal is out with a mid-calf strain
Tyler Bleyendaal is out with a mid-calf strain
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

While every Munster supporter watched last week's win over Scarlets with intrigue as to how their side would play under Rassie Erasmus, it was defence coach Jacques Nienaber's influence that was most evident.

Munster were starved of possession for large periods and although they will be looking to pose themselves more as an attacking threat at home to Cardiff Blues this evening, the defensive grit that they showed was a huge positive.

As one former player pointed out earlier this week, quite often teams take more from a victory when they put in such a massive defensive shift away from home and come away with the win.

Anthony Foley's influence should also not be forgotten about as Munster were hugely industrious at the breakdown.

They face Welsh opposition again, this time in Irish Independent Park, and the goal is simple: build on the foundations that were laid last week.

Munster's luckless run of injuries has continued, however, with Simon Zebo (fractured rib) facing five weeks out injured.

Hooker Kevin O'Byrne (elbow) will spend three months on the sidelines, while Tyler Bleyendaal has again cried off, this time with a 'mild-calf strain'.

Those blows have been somewhat softened by the confirmation that Munster have finally signed South African centre Jaco Taute.

The three-time capped Springbok will provide some much-needed midfield cover, with Francis Saili and Sam Arnold both out. Taute joins on a four-month loan deal and will link up with the province as soon as he is granted a work permit.

One fellow South African who Erasmus can call upon for this evening's clash is CJ Stander, who will make his return from the bench. Andrew Conway comes in for Zebo, while Ian Keatley will be eager to stake his claim.

Cardiff impressed against Edinburgh and have recalled several Welsh internationals, including Gethin Jenkins.

Munster have lost just once in their last 14 games at Irish Independent Park, and loosehead prop James Cronin is confident that his side can build on last week's impressive performance.

"Everyone is talking about our defence but we know we can still improve," Cronin said

"It's a good starting point. We'll be hoping to kick on again against Cardiff."

Verdict: Munster

Munster - A Conway; D Sweetnam, D Goggin, R Scannell, R O'Mahony; I Keatley, D Williams; J Cronin, N Scannell, J Ryan; D Foley, B Holland (capt); D O'Callaghan, T O'Donnell, J O'Donoghue. Reps: D Casey, D Kilcoyne, B Scott, D Ryan, CJ Stander, T O'Leary, C Bohane, S Fitzgerald.

Cardiff Blues - D Fish; A Cuthbert, C Allen, R Lee-Lo, T James; G Anscombe, T Williams; G Jenkins (capt), K Dacey, T Filise; G Earle, M Cook; J Navidi, E Jenkins, N Williams. Reps: M Rees, R Gill, S Andrews, J Turnbull, S Warburton, L Williams, S Shingler, M Morgan.

REF - I Davies (WRU)

Munster v Cardiff Blues,

Live, TG4 , 7.35

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