Ian Keatley was once again the star of the show, kicking six penalties, as Munster defeated Cardiff 18-12 in the RaboDirect Pro12 series in Wales on Friday night. The player was unstoppable with the boot as he led his side to their fourth win in a row.
Cardiff were the better team for most of the opening forty minutes,but found themselves trailing at the break. Kerry Sweeney was off form with the boot and missed a number of chances in the early stages. On the other side of the pitch, Ian Keatley was in excellent form for Munster and kicked everything that came his way. He had four chances in the opening period and made no mistake with any of them. It meant that Munster led 12-3 at the break, with Sweeney managing just a single score for the home side. The Blues did have two good chances of scoring a try, but despite crossing the line, the TMO ruled against them on both occasions. Alex Cuthbert was particularly unlucky with his effort as he did little wrong.
Cuthbert put things right immediately after the restart when he broke free and eluded the Munster defence. His try made it 12-08, but it was also the first five pointer that the reds had conceded all season. Sweeney added the extras and suddenly Munster looked to have a game on their hands. However, the home side showed their indiscipline and allowed Munster back into the game by conceding two penalties to Keatley. The Munster star made no mistake and helped to stretch his sides lead to 18-10. Sweeney added his second penalty of the night on seventy minutes and that left the single unconverted try between the teams.
The Blues tried hard in the closing quarter and were unlucky not to claim at least a share of the spoils. The home team pressed Munster in the final minutes and Cuthbert crossed over in the corner right on the stroke of full time. However, the referee blew for a forward pass and moments later he called for the ball. The boos rang out from the home crowd but in truth, the pass to Cuthbert was slightly forward and the referee was correct.
So despite the absence of their international players,Munster continue their unbeaten start to the new campaign. The likes of Keatley, Howlett and Mick O’Driscoll led the line,as the men in red marched on in Wales.