Cardiff Blues 18 – 24 Munster

A late withdrawal of Blues captain Pretorius made the home sides task even greater in facing the challenge from Munster, with young backrower Navidi taking over the captaincy.

The Blues looked good early on and took a 3-0 point lead, yet missed tackles combined with some lovely Munster offloading led to number 8 Tommy O’Donnell’s first try which was duly converted.

The conditions were slippery underfoot and with a greasy ball, handling errors were inevitable, yet time and again the Blues saw themselves in good point scoring positions, only for a mistake to undo all their hard work.

A solid piece of Blues attacking play led to Ronan O’Gara committing a professional foul, leading to a yellow card. In the following ten minutes the home side blew their one man advantage in coughing up possession when they had a clear try scoring opportunity and their half backs kicked away poor ball.

When back up to their full contingent, Munster continued to use their dominance in the scrum and pressure soon told and Blues when conceded a penalty. The visitors led at the break 10-3.

The second half showed Munster continuing their dominance in the scrum yet the Blues were making light work of their opponents’ lineout. An early substitution of Blues’ fly half Tovey saw the introduction of Sweeney and it was not long after that a delightful pop pass inside and an excellent running line from Hewitt saw the centre crash over for a deserved try. Sweeney converted and the scores were level.

Woeful Blues’ defending was never far away and after yet another missed first tackle, O’Donnell ran through for his second try, O’Gara added the extras.

The Welsh regions’ attack kept petering out due to handling errors yet they gained a hard earned penalty to bring the score within four points. A rare forwards attacking move in the Munster 22 led to a charge down of scrum half Stringers’ clearance kick, where his opponent 9 took his opportunity to touch down.

After a missed conversion, and with fifteen minutes remaining, the Blues had the slenderest of leads, with one point being the difference.

As the match trickled towards the end with an exchange of charge downs and missed passes, it seemed that the Blues had managed to make the biggest of turnaround from last week’s record defeat, yet their defence, or lack of, was to hurt them once more.

What should have been a routine defensive move, saw wing Tom James wrong footed by centre Laulala, who broke through the attempt easily to cross for a simple try, with only 3 minutes remaining.

Munster did what they do best and closed out the close game to end up the victors, yet neither side will be particularly pleased with their displays. Munster’s lineout without the likes of O’Connell is a worry, and their handling errors and decision making needs improvement if they are to be serious league contenders.

Whilst the Blues showed greater determination and pride, ultimately it is their poor defence that cost them once again. Until that improves, you can only see their losing streak continuing.

Full time score: Cardiff Blues 18 – 24 Munster

Teams

Cardiff Blues: Dan Fish;  Tom Williams, Gavin Evans, Dafydd Hewitt, Tom James; Jason Tovey, Lewis Jones; Luke Hamilton  , Josh Navidi ( c ), Robin Copeland; James Down, Lou Reed;  Taufa’ao Filise Rhys Williams Campese Ma’afu
Replacements:  Andi Kyriacou, Sam Hobbs, Ryan Harford, Macauley Cook, Luke Hamilton, Rob Lewis Ceri Sweeney, Owen Williams

Munster: F Jones; D Howlett capt, C Laulala, I Keatley, L O’Dea; R O’Gara, D Williams; M Horan, M Sherry, S Archer; D Foley, B Holland; Dave O’Callaghan, S Dougall, T O’Donnell. 

Replacements: D Varley, J Ryan, W du Preez, I Nagle, P Butler, P Stringer, D Barnes, J Murphy.

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