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Second-half rout gives improved Munster a winning bonus point

Guinness PRO14 Championship:
Munster 39, Cardiff 16
THEY looked a bit lethargic in the opening half but Munster went up a few gears in the second 40 minutes to paid to any hopes Cardiff had of causing a shock today in Thomond Park. The reds trailed 13-16 at the break but there was more determination about their play when the sides returned from the dressingroom break, running in a converted try by John Ryan (Keatley adding the extra two points) that put them 20-16 in front. A super break by Rory Scannell set up JJ Hanrahan (pictured) for his side’s third try; Robin Copeland finished off a great touchline break by Conor Murray for the bonus point try and JJ Hanrahan marked his return to competitive rugby at the venue with try number five and his second touchdown of the game. All but one of the tries were converted by Ian Keatley.
First half: Right from the kick-off, Cardiff out-half Jarod Evans showed his kicking ability. He landed two beauties from the hands into touch a few metres from the home line. The home side repelled the attacks but Evans out the ball between the posts after seven minutes to give Cardiff a 3-0 lead. It did not last long, Munster going through the phases, Wooton was stopped close to the line but Munster trusted the power of their big boys and Conor Murray was in to get the touchdown with Keatley’s conversion giving the home side a 7-3 lead on 13 minutes.
Chris Farrell came in to replace the injured Jaco Taute in the centre on 19 minutes and a second Jarod Evans penalty left just a point between the sides at 7-6 going into the second quarter. Munster looked lethargic and they were punished again on 24 minutes, Tom James and Steven Shingler combining to put Josh Turnbull over and Jarod Evans kicking the conversion. 7-13 to the visitors. The next score went to the home side, Ian Keatley converting A 40 metre penalty in front of the posts to reduce the lead to 10-13 but Jarod Evans got another shot at the posts with ten minutes to go and with ease he struck the ball cleanly between the posts from the halfway line to push his side back into a six point lead.
If we expected a backlash from the boys in red, it was slow coming. Cardiff looked the better side in the opening 35 minutes and they were quite content to take their penalties instead of going for the corner when in good attacking positions, Keatley reducing the lead again to three points four minutes before the break. A super break by Keatley set up another scoring chance for Munster. The out-half this time booted for lineout position but Cardiff held out for a 13-16 half time lead.
Munster: Andrew Conway; Darren Sweetnam, Jaco Taute, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Robin Copeland, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony – capt., Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Liam O’Connor, Stephen Archer, Mark Flanagan, Sean McCarthy, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Chris Farrell.
Roberts and Scully among eight changes for Munster clash
Cardiff Blues team to face Munster: Rhun Williams; Blaine Scully (capt), Jack Roberts, Willis Halaholo, Tom James; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Brad Thyer, Matthew Rees, Taufa’ao Filise, George Earle, James Down, Josh Turnbull, Olly Robinson, Nick Williams.
Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Corey Domachowski, Keiron Assiratti, Seb Davies, Macauley Cook, Lloyd Williams, Steven Shingler, Matthew Morgan.
referee, Quinton Immelman, SARU.

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