Munster make their point in Cardiff
Toothless home side no match for Rob Penney’s men in Wales
Damien Varley of Munster goes over for his try. Photograph: Ben Evans/Inpho
Cardiff 10 Munster 31: Tries from Felix Jones, Damien Varley, James Cronin and Andrew Conway secured a bonus point win for Munster this evening as Rob Penney’s side reclaimed top spot in the Rabo Pro12 table.
Having seen the Ospreys move ahead of them earlier in the day, Munster were in a determined mood at the Cardiff City Stadium, which is more than can be said for a Cardiff side that offered little, especially in the first half.
While the Welsh region were missing more than 20 players through international calls and injuries, the Munster squad were without only three players required by Ireland.
The Blues had the early territorial advantage, but it took 12 minutes before they could convert it into points. Munster disrupted possession illegally in front of their own posts and, although they escaped a yellow card, Humberstone, who had missed a chance from long range, slotted over the simple penalty.
Munster stormed back for a try with their first significant incursion into the Blues’ half and it was created by former home favourite Casey Laulala. The Kiwi centre swerved outside a slipping Gavin Evans and offloaded superbly for fullback Felix Jones, one of five released by the national team, to race over, with JJ Hanrahan converting.
Munster began to dominate and skipper Varley snatched a loose ball and drove over despite the attentions of Lewis Jones, with Hanrahan once again adding the extras.
When the Blues repeatedly failed to clear from their own 22, the visitors suddenly found prop Cronin in the happy position of being able to ignore the three backs outside him and trot in. Hanrahan’s kick went over off a post and he promptly landed a straightforward penalty when Josh Navidi strayed offside.
Two minutes into the second half Munster grabbed the bonus-point try when Felix Jones sped through and sent wing Conway in at the flag, the faultless Hanrahan converting from the touchline.
The Blues threw themselves into attack and, after Munster number eight C.J. Stander was sin-binned, the pack drove hooker Dacey over for a try confirmed by the TMO. Humberstone’s kick took his side into double figures.
With the inevitable substitutions disrupting play and the result no longer in doubt, Munster took their foot off the pedal, although replacement hooker Mike Sherry was still competitive enough to see yellow at the breakdown.
It made little difference, with the Blues unable to take advantage of the extra man.