It’s sixth against eighth in the RaboDirect PRO12 as Munster entertain Cardiff Blues at Musgrave Park.
Full-Time: Munster 6-17 Cardiff Blues
19.28 – We’re just a couple of minutes away from the start of the game, and here are the teams…
(A late change for Munster sees Denis Hurley come in for Johne Murphy.)
Munster: F Jones; D Howlett (c), K Earls, J Downey, D Hurley; R O’Gara, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, S Archer; D Foley, D Ryan; T O’Donnell, S Dougall, J Coughlan.
Replacements: S Henry, W du Preez, BJ Botha, B Holland, CJ Stander, D Williams, I Keatley, C Laulala.
Cardiff: J Tovey; O Williams, R Smith, J Roberts, H Robinson; R Patchell, L Jones; S Hobbs, R Williams, B Bourrust; B Davies, L Reed; J Navidi (c), S Warburton, R Copeland.
Replacements: K Dacey, P Tamba, S Andrews, J Down, L Hamilton, A Walker, C Sweeney, L Halfpenny.
19.33 – Turnover to Munster as the match gets underway, the ball falls to Ronan O’Gara who tries to make some territorial advantage. All the play in midfield, though, in the opening minutes.
19.41 – After Munster suck in the Cardiff defence, Felix Jones plays the ball out to Mike Sherry. The move breaks down and Cardiff break.
The ball runs the length of the field and Rhys Patchell denies HIMSELF a clear try when his indecision on the line allows the home side to clear.
19.43 – Penalty to Cardiff!
Patchell picks himself up and converts the first spot kick of the game. Not the most emphatic of kicks but he could miss from so short a distance.
The Blues break as Sam Warburton gingerly gets back to his feet – he lay injured after a scrum. Robin Copeland drives the visitors forward but Munster hold firm, and a scrum results after Sam Hobbs is treated for injury.
19.49 – Hobbs is penalised in the scrum and Munster have an opportunity to press home their territorial advantage. Just when it seems that they might break, the touch judge spots a foot in touch. Stop-start game so far.
19.52 – James Coughlan barrels his way towards the Cardiff Blues line but finds his way barred by a sea of blue jerseys. Rob Penney’s men are getting no change from their lower ranked opponents.
19.54 – Penalty to Munster!
Finally, the home side’s pressing pays off and a good scrum forces Cardiff into an error and leaves O’Gara with the change to level things up. He doesn’t miss. Munster are on the board.
19.57 – A brilliant kick from O’Gara to touch puts the pressure right back on Cardiff.
19.59 – Sean Henry has replaced Mike Sherry at hooker for Munster, just 23 minutes into the game. This after the earlier replacement of Conor Murray by Duncan Williams.
20.03 – A drop goal attempt from Patchell goes right and wide, but a decent effort nonetheless.
Munster have shown signs of their best form, but they’ve been all too fleeting. A poor match so far.
20.06 – Lou Reed is down and receiving attention. That’s what he gets for (if you mention the words ‘walking’ and ‘wildside’ even once, I will end you – Ed.)
20.13 – After Munster earn a scrum a couple of metres from the Cardiff line, Earls feels the ball to Felix Jones. Munster switch the play again with O’Donnell and O’Gara but the former goes out of play and the lineout is Cardiff’s.
It’s a spirited display from Munster but everything about this display is predictable.
20.16 – What can I tell you? It’s been an abysmal game. “Dour and disappointing. We need a spark at Musgrave Park.” according to Ryle ‘Ryle Nugent’ Nugent.
We certainly do.
Anyway, that’s half-time, the scores are level, I’m off for a little daydream where I’m in the pub and none of this is happening. Back shortly.
Munster’s James Downey and Keith Earls tackle Richard Smith of Cardiff. (Inpho)
20.26 – Daire O’Brien: “We’re not really getting the rugby to match the clement conditions.”
Nice use of clement.
20.30 – The match is back underway, and Munster take the initiative before Donnacha Ryan’s casual handling gives the advantage to Cardiff.
20.34 – Try for Cardiff Blues!
Finally, finally, we have a try. Munster fall asleep and Owen Williams takes advantage of a sweet, economic piece of play to race clear of the home defence and score the try. Patchell with the extras.
20.36 – Penalty to Munster!
Groans in Cork but it is not all bad, as O’Gara scores his second penalty of the game after some sloppy Cardiff handling. Looked to these eyes like a knock-on.
There’s already a better flow to the play in this half, with the ball spending far more time in play.
20.43 – Munster waste a great chance from a scrum in the fog and the gloom. The atmosphere is like a Tim Burton film, the action on the field more reminiscent of an 11-year-old episode of Emmerdale (Farm).
20.46 – Patchell almost plays in the try scorer Williams, but he takes his eye off the ball at the wrong moment and the chance is wasted.
20.50 – Jason Tovey and Lou Reed come off for Cardiff, with James Down and Leigh Halfpenny coming on in their place.
Billy Holland replaces Dave Foley for Munster, as Old Ryle describes the action on the pitch as a “collective malfunction.”
20.50 – Another Munster replacement – Casey Laulala on, Keith Earls off.
20.55 – Ralph Keyes points out that Munster have not created one serious try scoring opportunity. He’s right too.
A Munster scrum raises the temperature slightly at the moribund stadium, and the home side works the ball from one side to the other and back, without really making any headway.
Credit to Cardiff, who have defended magnificently.
21.00 – Cardiff are denied a match-winning try! Jamie Roberts carries the ball, draws the Munster defence and offloads to Owen Williams. It was, however, a clear pass forward and it is disallowed.
That was foolish by Williams, who could have checked his run slightly and still gone over.
21.02 – Try for Cardiff!
Munster let the ball run loose and Copeland is first on the scene. He reacted better than anyone else to tear forward and score. A fitting reward for the Cardiff back-row, and that should be that.
21.03 – Patchell c0nverts.
21.05 – Quite.
21.10 – O’Gara kicks a penalty for the corner but this is a lost cause, unless Munster can conjure themselves up a Robin van Persie or something.
21.16 – Patchell is named man of the match – proper order – as the clocks ticks down to full-time.
That was a truly shocking performance from Munster and they will have a lot of work to do to build up momentum going into the final Heineken Cup pool matches.
It was a poor game but kudos to the Cardiff players, and particularly the back row, who were excellent tonight.
Thanks for keeping up.