Monday 11 December 2017

Late Munster charge leaves Cardiff blue

Cardiff Blues 13 Munster 23

Munster’s Francis Saili celebrates scoring his side’s first try against Cardiff. Photo: Darren Griffiths/Sportsfile
Munster’s Francis Saili celebrates scoring his side’s first try against Cardiff. Photo: Darren Griffiths/Sportsfile

Alex Bywater

Munster revived memories of their dramatic win over the Ospreys as 10 points in the last four minutes secured a late 23-13 success over Cardiff Blues.

This time it was Rory Scannell who was the hero for Rassie Erasmus' side after he stepped into out-half for three quarters of the game and nailed a late drop goal to help his team to victory.

Scannell's three pointer and a try from replacement Conor Oliver sealed Munster's win as they came through another tough encounter on the right side of the result.

At 13-13 the game looked set for a draw after tries from Aled Summerhill and Francis Saili in the second period. Scannell and Steve Shingler had kicked the rest of the points, but Munster's gritty resolve saw them emerge as deserved winners.

Munster had to contend with the early loss of Ian Keatley, the out-half hobbling off injured in the opening quarter after missing with a simple penalty effort.

Erasmus' men also had a stiff breeze in their faces and after Shingler was awry from inside his own half, it was the Blues who moved ahead.

Munster's Ronan O'Mahony. Photo: Darren Griffiths/Sportsfile
Munster's Ronan O'Mahony. Photo: Darren Griffiths/Sportsfile

Shingler was successful at the second time of asking to make it 3-0 but with Scannell taking over kicking duties, Munster soon levelled things up through the 23-year-old's left peg. Scannell had moved inside from centre to take over at out-half with Saili coming into midfield.

The change failed to hinder Munster's momentum, though, as they dominated possession in what was a real tactical battle. At the half hour mark the game was still tied at 3-3, with Munster limiting the Blues to a couple of half chances.

Tom James made one clean line break for the home side, before a brilliant covering tackle from Munster scrum-half Duncan Williams stopped his rampaging opposite number Lloyd Williams from making it to the try line.

Scottish referee Mike Adamson was an unpopular figure with home supporters in the first period, but one decision did go in the Blues' favour in the 34th minute as Munster were penalised after a dust-up between the two packs near the touchline. Shingler nailed the kick to ensure his team turned around ahead.

Munster's Rhys Marshall is tackled by Cardiff Blues' Josh Navidi. Photo: Darren Griffiths/Sportsfile
Munster's Rhys Marshall is tackled by Cardiff Blues' Josh Navidi. Photo: Darren Griffiths/Sportsfile

Scannell missed penalty shots at the end of the first period and the start of the second, while Duncan Williams' scintillating break was further encouragement for the men in red. Munster were then given a man advantage after Blues centre Willis Halaholo was yellow carded for a high shot on Andrew Conway in midfield. It was the correct decision to send the former Hurricane to the bin but strangely, his absence saw his team move ahead.

Summerhill picked up a stray Duncan Williams pass to scorch to the line before just four minutes later, Saili danced through midfield to dot down under the sticks. The two quick scores were improved upon by both Shingler and Scannell to set up a tight final quarter.

Munster, though, finished the game as the stronger of the two teams and they got their rewards.

Scannell nailed his kick for a three-point lead and then Oliver picked and went from a ruck for a converted score which sealed a deserved win.

Scorers - Cardif Blues: Try: Aled Summerhill; Con: Steve Shingler; Pens: Steve Shingler 2. Munster: Tries: Francis Saili, Conor Oliver; Cons: Rory Scannell 2; Pens: Rory Scannell 2; DG: Rory Scannell.

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Aled Summerhill, Willis Halaholo (Garyn Smith 56), Steven Shingler, Tom James; Gareth Anscombe, Lloyd Williams (captain); Corey Domachowski (Marc Thomas 76), Matthew Rees (Kirby Myhill 67), Anton Peikrishvili (Tau Filise 71), George Earle, Jarrad Hoeata, Macauley Cook, Josh Navidi, Nick Williams (Sion Bennett 71)

Munster: Andrew Conway; Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Ronan O'Mahony; Ian Keatley (Francis Saili 20), Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall (Kevin O'Byrne 67), Stephen Archer, Darren O'Shea (Conor Oliver 46), Billy Holland (captain), Dave O'Callaghan, Tommy O'Donnell, Robin Copeland (Fineen Wycherley 67)

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)

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