Tyler Bleyendaal guides Munster to bonus point victory

Win over Cardiff Blues means hosts keep pace with Conference A leaders Glasgow

Munster’s Tyler Bleyendaal continued his impressive form against Cardiff. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Munster’s Tyler Bleyendaal continued his impressive form against Cardiff. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Munster 45 Cardiff Blues 21

The brilliant Tyler Bleyendaal helped Munster to a vital bonus point win over Cardiff Blues as they kept pace with Conference A leaders Glasgow.

Conor Murray scored the vital fourth try, which added to efforts from Chris Farrell, Jean Kleyn and CJ Stander, to give Munster their fourth win of the season at Musgrave Park. Andrew Conway and Sammy Arnold got in on the act in the closing stages, while Bleyendaal kicked all five conversions and added a penalty for his side.

Murray had left the field before the break for a HIA, while Munster finished with 14 players when Peter O’Mahony was taken off with four minutes remaining after he sustained a shoulder knock. Before kick-off Keith Earls was a late withdrawal after he sustained an injury in the warm-up, but with Bleyendaal in brilliant form it didn’t seem to interrupt Munster’s performance.

With the wind blowing across the field in favour of Cardiff in the first-half, Munster were up against it in the opening period, but a brilliant lineout steal from O’Mahony settled them in the first minute.

The home side could have opened the scoring after five minutes when a strong Munster scrum earned the penalty, but Bleyendaal was unable to reach the posts from the 10 metre line into the wind.

Cardiff have been one of the in-form sides in the Pro14 with four wins from their last five games, and they displayed their incisive attack in the seventh minute. Rey Lee-Lo ran a brilliant curving line in his own half that got him past Farrell, and after taking possession scrumhalf Tomos Williams showed great pace to score. Anscombe made it 7-0 with the conversion.

A no-arms tackle by Seb Davies got Munster on the board after 12 minutes when Bleyendaal kicked the penalty. And while Munster were the better side for the most part - they totally dominated the set-piece battle - it was a second lineout steal that put them in front. This time from Billy Holland.

Eventually their try arrived in the 18th minute when O’Mahony forced the turnover near the Cardiff line and Farrell drove over beside the post for a 10-7 lead.

Munster’s Andrew Conway with Gareth Anscombe and Tomos Williams of Cardiff. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Munster’s Andrew Conway with Gareth Anscombe and Tomos Williams of Cardiff. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Munster continued to boss the encounter, but Cardiff’s lineout woes were not helping their cause. An overthrow in Munster territory launched an attack for the home side, and after Rory Scannell pushed them into the Cardiff corner from a penalty, Murray provided the assist for Kleyn to score from close range. Again Bleyendaal was successful with the extras, which put Munster 17-7 ahead.

A clash of heads with his opposite number saw Murray leave the field for a head injury assessment just before half-time, but there was still time for the Blues to hit back with another lightening raid. Anscombe and Matthew Morgan linked on the left and sent Aled Summerhill clear, and a clever dummy pass inside was enough to stall the Munster cover and he scored in the corner.

Despite all their pressure Munster only led 17-14 at half-time, but they did have Murray back in the fold after the restart. Anscombe looked like levelling but his penalty was off the mark early in the second-half, but his side soon hit the front. Again it was Williams and Lee-Lo in the thick of it, and a quick tap penalty from the scrumhalf sent Lee-Lo over for the converted lead try.

With Glasgow Warriors racing to a bonus point win over Ulster it was vital that Munster reclaimed the lead, and five minutes after his introduction Stander ran in his side’s third try, which put them into a 24-21 lead with half an hour remaining.

Munster’s CJ Stander scores a try against Cardiff. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Munster’s CJ Stander scores a try against Cardiff. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Just after the hour-mark Munster claimed their key fourth try when Murray finished from an inch after Dave Kilcoyne had been held short, but they needed the TMO to confirm the score.

Conway bagged Munster’s fifth try 14 minutes from time and Bleyendaal slotted his fifth conversion of the night, his final act in an outstanding display.

Scorers - Munster: C Farrell, J Kleyn, CJ Stander, C Murray, A Conway, S Arnold tries; T Bleyendaal pen, 5 cons, JJ Hanrahan con. Cardiff: T Williams, A Summerhill, R Lee-Lo tries; G Anscombe 3 cons

Munster: M Haley; A Conway, C Farrell, R Scannell, D Sweetnam; T Bleyendaal, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, K O’Byrne, J Ryan; J Kleyn, B Holland; P O’Mahony (Capt), C Cloete, A Botha.

Replacements: A Mathewson for Murray (temporary, 34-40 mins), CJ Stander for Botha (44 mins), N Scannell for O’Byrne (49 mins), S Archer for Ryan (52 mins), T Beirne for Kleyn (54 mins), Mathewson for Murray (63 mins), J Loughman for Kilcoyne (63 mins), JJ Hanrahan for Bleyendaal (67 mins), S Arnold for Farrell (74 mins).

Cardiff Blues: M Morgan; O Lane, R Lee-Lo, W Halaholo, A Summerhill; G Anscombe, T Williams; R Gill, K Dacey (Capt), D Lewis; S Davies, R Thornton; S Lewis-Hughes, O Robinson, J Turnbull.

Replacements: E Lewis for Dacey (52 mins), B Thyer for Gill (54 mins), G Smith for Summervhill (57 mins), H Millard for Halaholo (58 mins), L Williams for T Williams (58 mins), K Assiratti for Lewis (69 mins), G Earle for Davies (69 mins).

Referee. M Mitrea (Italy).

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