Cardiff Blues 25 Munster 18
Munster produced a poor first half to lose further ground on Glasgow Warriors at the top of Conference A of the Guinness Pro 14 after a 25-18 loss to Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park.
The visitors never got started in the opening 40 as Macauley Cook, Lloyd Williams and Owen Lane all scored tries for the Blues. Jarrod Evans kicked two conversions and two crucial second-half penalties to send Munster to defeat.
Tries in either half from Chris Cloete and Stephen Fitzgerald plus the boot of Ian Keatley got Munster back into it, but it was not enough despite Tyler Bleyendaal securing a losing bonus point with the final kick of the game.
Munster had a shocking first half, making basic errors which allowed the Blues to dominate.
Keatley missed a simple early penalty effort and that set the tone for a poor performance. The home side then scored three tries in eight minutes to take total control.
From a lineout move, Ellis Jenkins’s long ball allowed Cook to open the scoring. Munster argued there had been both a Jenkins knock on and a forward pass in the build-up. They had a point, but the try was given. Duncan Williams’s clearance kick was then charged down by Lloyd Williams who scored the Blues’ second and Rey Lee-Lo kicked ahead from a scrum platform to give flying wing Lane a third try. Evans converted both scores.
Munster were shell-shocked, but did at least respond before the break. Cloete was their scorer, peeling off the back of a lineout drive to go over the line.
Keatley kicked a penalty as Munster flew out of the blocks at the start of the second period and Blues hooker Matthew Rees was yellow carded for offside as the visitors hit back.
Fitzgerald dived over in the right corner to finish off a flowing team move and the conversion was added by the boot of Keatley to set up a four-point game.
The Munster comeback didn’t last. The Blues showed admirable restraint to respond to a tricky spell, and buoyed by a series of replacements, they got back into things.
Evans kicked two penalties to a final effort from Bleyendaal, but there was no doubting who deserved to win.
CARDIFF BLUES: R Williams; A Summerhill, G Smith, R Lee-Lo, O Lane; J Evans, L Williams; G Jenkins (capt), M Rees, T Filise; G Earle, S Davies; M Cook, E Jenkins, N Williams.
Replacements: K Myhill for Summerhill (temp 53-63 mins) & for Rees (63), D Lewis for Filise (55), R Gill for G Jenkins (61), T Williams for L Williams (66), J Turnbull for Earle (61), O Robinson for Cook (74). Not used: S Shingler, R Edwards.
MUNSTER: S Fitzgerald; D Sweetnam, S Arnold, R Scannell, R O'Mahony; I Keatley, D Williams ; D Kilcoyne, R Marshall, J Ryan; G Grobler, D O'Shea; J O'Donoghue (capt), C Cloete, R Copeland.
Replacements: S Cronin for Kilcoyne, S Archer for Ryan, J Kleyn for Grobler (all 54 mins), S Zebo for O'Mahony (56), T Bleyendaal for Keatley (61), M Sherry for Marshall (62), J Hart for Williams, D O'Callaghan for Copeland (both 70 mins)
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)