Cardiff give Munster the blues
Rugby:Munster produced a poor performance on a foggy night in Cork and were deservedly beaten 17-6 by a Cardiff Blues team who scored two tries to none, winning at Musgrave Park for the first time since 2007.Wing Owen Williams got the first and former St Mary’s College schoolboy Robin Copeland, who had a very impressive game at number eight, grabbed the second. The home side never got out of second gear for the entire match, lacking both the nous and precision to unlock a resolute visiting defence.
It was a generally low quality opening 40 minutes – it improved marginally after the interval – with both sides struggling for continuity and too often resorting to a high ball game. Munster did enjoy some joy in the set-piece putting the Cardiff lineout under pressure and the home side also enjoyed a largely dominant scrum.
The visitors might have taken an early lead when 19 year old outhalf Rhys Patchell chased a hoofed clearance, outpacing Dougie Howlett but despite hacking the ball twice towards the line, he was thwarted by the covering Donnacha Ryan who did extremely well to get back and slide tackle the ball into touch. Munster lost hooker Mike Sherry to injury and scrumhalf Conor Murray after a clash of heads at a ruck.
Patchell did kick a penalty but Ronan O’Gara, who became his province’s most capped player in his 234th appearance, responded in kind to leave the sides tied at 3-3 at the interval. Former St Mary’s College schoolboy and Irish underage international Robin Copeland, playing at number eight for the Blues, made one excellent break, but in keeping with the fare it petered out.
Cardiff seized the initiative immediately after the internal with a try from wing Owen Williams three minutes after the re-start. He showed good pace and strength but benefited appreciably from weak Munster tackling as he raced through from 30 metres. Patchell kicked the conversion to move his side 10-3 ahead.
The visitors though conceded a penalty from the re-start with Bradley Davies guilty of playing the ball in front of a team-mate who had knocked the ball on. O’Gara’s effort reduced the deficit to 10-6 but the home side continued to find their ambition undermined by basic mistakes.
Their progress was too often lateral and they failed to commit defenders when moving the ball wide, allowing the Blues to drift with ease to shut down the space. Cardiff should have added a second try on 68 minutes but Jamie Roberts failed to execute a straight forward two-on-one, pushing his pass to Williams forward with the try line beckoning.
It was a clumsy error but symptomatic of the general fare. It was a short lived respite for the home side as a couple of minutes later, another Munster handling mistake, this time from replacement scrumhalf Duncan Williams, allowed Copeland to snap up the loose ball and show impressive pace over 30 metres. Patchell kicked a fine conversion to push the visitors out to 17-6.
Munster must try and regroup quickly with two pivotal Heineken Cup matches coming on over the next two weekends.