Munster give Cardiff blues

Updated: February 24, 2012

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A relieved Munster prevailed after a hard fought encounter against the Cardiff Blues at Thomond Park.

The hosts dominated the first half with Ian Keatley bossing proceedings behind a dominant pack and the duo of Felix Jones and Simon Zebo looking dangerous with ball in hand.

Keatley kicked 11 points while Jones crossed for his sides only try after being put away by Zebo, who was the most exciting player on the pitch.

Cardiff dragged the game back in the second half with a try from Richard Mustoe but couldn’t quite force a late score despite superb ball retention.

It was the visitors who opened the scoring. Former Scottish Out-half Dan Parks knocking over a penalty after a Munster infringement at scrum time.

That was to be the last score of the half for Cardiff as Munster took control. Keatley levelled on nine minutes before a wonderful move saw Munster take the lead.

Mick O Driscoll’s deft inside pass was met by the onrushing Zebo whose perfect line took him clear. The winger then found Jones with a precision pass that left the fullback with an easy run in.

Keatley added the conversion and struck two more penalties as Munster bossed the half as though it was a training run.

They almost added another try in freakish fashion. Zebo touched down after a clearance ricocheted off of Danny Barnes and the corner flag. However the linesman adjudged that the ball had been in touch.

Things were threatening to get ugly, nowhere was their dominance more apparent than at scrum time where B.J. Botha and Marcus Horan were completely in control until their withdrawal after 60 minutes.

16-3 at the break things looked bleak for Cardiff but to their credit they came out for the second half a changed side and were rewarded with a try after 46 minutes.

Gavin Henson, who had looked miserable in the first half showed his class, bursting between the tackles of Keatley and Tomas O Leary before exchanging passes with Martyn Williams.

He was hauled down a few metres short of the line. From the resulting ruck, quick hands by the Cardiff backs saw Richard Mustoe get over in the corner. Parks added the conversion to make it 16-10

Suddenly, Cardiff were on top and substitute Ben Blair added another penalty to make it 16-13 with 20 minutes left.

Neither side could manage many clear cut chances and Keatley missed two efforts two give Munster breathing space. This lack of clinical finishing continued as they squandered their best opportunity of the half with ten minutes to go.

From a five metre line out Blues Captain Paul Tito was binned for slowing down at ruck time. The Reds went for the kill opting for a scrum. Against the seven man Blues pack a try should have been routine but sub Stephen Archer was penalised and the Welsh side breathed life.

They gradually worked their way up to the Munster 22 but despite keeping posession for almost six minutes they could not find a way through the disciplined home defence and eventually James Coughlin forced a turnover to seal victory.

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