Munster blown away in Cardiff by the bonus point Blues
Wake-up call for Johann van Graan’s side as they fail to score a point in the second-half
Joey Carbery is tackled by Gareth Anscombe and Willis Halaholo during Munster’s defeat to Cardiff. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Munster missed a chance to go top of their conference by slipping to an unexpected 37-13 loss to the Cardiff Blues in Wales.
Despite falling the wrong side of the result Johann Van Graan’s side created enough opportunities to have won the game but lacked a cutting edge.
This was Cardiff’s first victory of the season and their first under new head coach John Mulvihill having lost on consecutive weekends in Italy against both Benetton and Zebre.
Despite being superior in many aspects of play the hosts showed far more invention and creativity behind the scrum which proved the difference between winning and losing.
Mulvihill was under intense pressure coming into the game after back-to back-losses in Italy leaving the Australian chasing his first competitive victory since joining the Welsh region.
The Blues began the match like a runaway train exerting a large amount of pressure on the Munster line.
And the hosts came mightily close to opening the scoring when wing Owen Lane’s try was ruled out by the TMO. Outhalf Anscombe started the move with a lovely break before a set of powerful carries by the home side.
The ball was then spread wide for Lane to cross but Ray Lee-Lo had blocked Jaco Taute from making the tackle resulting in the try being disallowed.
But the home side didn’t have to wait long to make amends with former Ulster number eight Nick Williams smashing his way over from short range following a powerful surge from inside centre Halaholo.
But Munster hit back immediately with two tries for Conway in the space of three minutes. His first came completely against the run of play with skipper Peter O’Mahony turning over the ball on the halfway line.
O’Mahony’s expert steal resulted in the ball spilling out into Carbery’s hands and he recycled to Conway, with the winger chipping over the top of fullback Matthew Morgan before regathering the ball to score.
Conway had Carbery to thank for his second score with the outhalf’s 60-metre break putting the Blues defence on the back foot. Carbery was tackled just short of the line but the ball was recycled for Conway to cross in the far right-hand corner.
But Munster’s resurgence didn’t dampen the Welsh side’s spirit with Halaholo cutting straight through their defence with a 30-metre break before drawing in JJ Hanrahan to put Tomos Williams over.
Carbery narrowed the deficit to a single point with a penalty from 30-metres out following a textbook turnover from former Scarlets star Tadhg Beirne.
The outhalf’s successful penalty mean Munster trailed 14-13 at half time.
Cardiff started the second half even stronger than they began the first. After an excellent turnover from Nick Williams outhalf Anscombe gave the Blues some excellent field position with a touch finder which pinned Munster deep inside their own 22.
The ball was spun wide off the top of the lineout before Halaholo burnt Rory Scannell for pace to extend Cardiff’s lead to eight points.
Anscombe extended the home sides lead to 11 points with a tricky penalty from just inside his own half after Munster were penalised for holding on.
Munster were not clinical enough in the second half having applied a large amount of pressure on the Cardiff line.
Tomos Williams killed Munster off and in the process secured a bonus point for the Welsh region with a try three minutes from time. With Munster camped on their own try line the Blues went through a number of phases before Williams sniped from short range to put the result beyond doubt.
Scoring sequence: 7 mins N Williams try, 8 mins G Anscombe conversion, 11 mins A Conway try, 14 mins A Conway, 17 mins T Williams try, 18 mins G Anscombe conversion, 24 mins J Carbery conversion; half time 14-13; 45 mins try W Halaholo, 46 mins conversion Gareth Anscombe, 53 mins penalty G Anscombe, 64 mins penalty G Anscombe, 71 mins penalty G Anscombe, 77 mins try T Williams, 78 mins conversion Gareth Anscombe.
CARDIFF BLUES: M Morgan; O Lane, W Halaholo, R Lee-Lo, J Harries; G Anscombe, T Williams; R Gill, K Dacey, D Arhip, G Earle, J Turnbull, J Navidi, E Jenkins (capt), N Williams. Replacements: K Myhill on for K Dacey (74 mins), R Carre on for R Gill (74 mins), S Andrews on for D Arhip (69 mins), M Cook on for G Earle (64 mins), O Robinson for N Williams (17 -30 mins) on for J Navidi (60 mins), L Williams for T Williams (78 mins), G Smith for W Halaholo 78, T Williams. Munster scorers: Tries: A Conway 11, 14, Cons: Pens: J Carbery 24
MUNSTER: JJ Hanrahan; A Conway, J Taute, R Scannell, D Sweetnam; J Carbery, D Williams; J Cronin, M Sherry, S Archer; J Kleyn, T Beirne; P O’Mahony (capt), C Cloete, CJ Stander. Replacements: Diarmuid Barron on for Mike Sherry (74 mins), Dave Kilcoyne on for James Cronin (54 mins), Brian Scott for Stephen Archer (77 mins), Darren O’Shea for Jean Kleyn (77 mins), Tommy O’Donnell on for CJ Stander (66 mins), Jack Stafford, Bill Johnston, Shane Daly on for Jaco Taute (63 mins). Munster scorers: Tries: A Conway 11, 14, Cons: Pens: J Carbery 24
Referee: Quinton Immelman