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Brave Munster performance reaps deserved bonus point

(Alex Kendellen had another good game against Cardiff today)

United Rugby Championsahip:
Cardiff 20, Munster 13
A THIRD defeat for Munster in succession but, considering that they fielded well below full strength today in the Arms Park, their coaches can take a lot of positives from the performance. Admittedly there were a number of errors, they had to defend for most of the game, but there were many outstanding moments from this young side to be positive about the future. Coming into the game the theme at the press conferences was one of “don’t expect any immediate results, it will take some time to put our plans into place” and the target appeared to be “post Christmas before we see some perfection.”
It’s early days. There is some serious talent in this Munster squad and they are sure to improve over the coming weeks.
Munster conceded a try within three minutes, Cardiff centre Max Llewellyn crashing past a few soft tackles to go over but Jarrod Evans missed the conversion. Twice in the opening seven minutes Munster were turned over at the breakdown but by the end of the first quarter they were only two points in arrears when Ben Healy struck a penalty low but accurately between the posts. Cardiff were struck a blow when they lost their key full-back Liam Williams with a shoulder injury but it was the visitors who had to show their defensive qualities with Shane Daly getting a defensive touchdown to prevent a try and then withstanding a lengthy pick and drive assault a metre from their own posts.
With 30 minutes played Munster staged their best period of the game, Chris Farrell and Malakai Fekitoa making telling ground, and Ben Healy put his side ahead with his second successful penalty kick. The Munster out-half continually pinned Cardiff back with his accurate and lengthy kicking but when they could not deal with a move off a lineout 25 metres out, hooker Christian Dacey smashed through the cover for a try, the conversion by Jarod Evans giving his side a 12-6 half time lead.
There is no doubt that the Munster coaching staff were happy with that opening 40 minutes. The defence, after a shaky start, looked solid and when they got the ball down the field the speed of their attacks constantly tested the home defence. As the replacements came on Munster lifted their game and they constantly frustrated the home side. Their hard work was rewarded on 63 minutes when number eight Jack O’Sullivan made precious yards and was in the right place to snatch a try which Jack Crowley converted. Cardiff replied on 68 minutes when strong pressure. They forced a penalty and Jarrod Evans popped over the kick to put his side 15-13 in front. The home side sealed the victory at the death, a slick backline move sending winger Alex Summerhill haring over. Munster got a last sniff of a potential last minute score but once again they turned over possession.
Cardiff Rugby: Liam Williams; Alex Summerhill, Rey Lee-Lo, Max Llewellyn, Josh Adams; Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Rhys Carré, Kristian Dacey, Dillon Lewis, Josh Turnbull (c), Seb Davies, James Botham, Thomas Young, Taulupe Faletau Replacements: Liam Belcher, Rhys Barratt, Dmitri Arhip, Matthew Screech, Lopeti Timani, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Priestland, Uilisi Halaholo
Munster: Shane Daly, Calvin Nash, Chris Farrell, Malakai Fekitoa, Liam Coombes, Ben Healy, Paddy Patterson, Josh Wycherley, Niall Scannell, Keynan Knox, Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue (c), Alex Kendellen, Jack O’Sullivan. Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Dave Kilcoyne, Roman Salanoa, Tom Ahern, John Hodnett, Neil Cronin, Jack Crowley, Rory Scannell
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU, 63rd league game)
AR 1: Ben Breakspear (WRU) AR 2: Mike English (WRU)
TMO: Sam Grove-White (SRU)

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