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Clinical Munster Banish The Blues

Clinical Munster Banish The Blues

Munster staged an impressive second half comeback at Musgrave Park on Saturday to overturn a 10-point deficit and beat the Cardiff Blues in Magners League fare for the first time since May 2006. The four-try win shot the province to the top of the table.

Robin Sowden-Taylor’s second half sin-binning proved costly for the Cardiff Blues as Munster turned their numerical advantage into 14 points and wrestled their way to victory in Cork.

Too many breakdown offences saw Sowden-Taylor banished to the sideline in the 51st minute and while he was off, Munster took full advantage to put Paul O’Connell and Niall Ronan over for converted tries.

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Having been 17-7 in arrears, the European champions crowned their comeback with a bonus point-clinching try from South African recruit Justin Melck.

Richard Mustoe and Maama Molitika had touched down for the Blues either side of half-time.

And the visitors deserved better luck when Ben Blair missed a sitter of a penalty which would have gleaned them a losing bonus point.

Tony McGahan’s squad rotation policy saw a refreshed O’Connell, John Hayes, Ronan O’Gara and Peter Stringer introduced back into the Munster line-up.

Cardiff also performed mini surgery to the side that pipped Ulster last week – the most notable changes seeing Ceri Sweeney and Jason Spice selected at half-back.

Munster got off to the best possible start. Ian Dowling made serious yardage near the Cardiff 22 and a neat grubber kick from Rua Tipoki was gobbled up by Ronan for a second-minute try.

Ronan O’Gara’s successful conversion was cancelled out though by a thumping penalty from inside his own half from Blair as Cardiff began to settle.

It was a lively opening quarter, with territory evenly split. Cardiff shaded it, helped by some forward grunt and Sweeney’s clever direction.

The Welsh side’s ball retention kept Munster on the back foot and an excellent 34th-minute try from winger Richard Mustoe was just desserts.

Sweeney invited Mustoe into the attacking line on the 22 and he was able to step past both Stringer and Barry Murphy before touching down his first try for the region.

10-7 ahead at half-time, Cardiff kept their foot on the gas and a huge up-and-under from Sweeney helped create Molitika’s score.

The dropping ball bounced off Denis Hurley’s shoulder and into the grateful arms of Roberts who carried on before unleashing Molitika for the line.

Blair added the conversion and Munster were suddenly staring at their fifth successive Magners League defeat to Cardiff.

But little by little, McGahan’s men got themselves back in touch. They were aided by some superb counter-attacking from Lifeimi Mafi and Doug Howlett.

After Sowden-Taylor went off his feet and incurred Peter Allan’s wrath, Munster captain O’Connell stretched over off a five-metre ruck for a galvanising seven-pointer.

Munster went 21-17 ahead on the hour-mark when Howlett and Mafi made mince meat of Cardiff’s left wing defence and Ronan was up in support to complete his brace.

Melck then got in on the try-scoring act as Bradley Davies lost control of a lineout ball, close to the Cardiff line, and the Munster number 8 had an easy task to score.

A burst from the back from Blair won Cardiff a last-minute chance to nab something from the game but the New Zealander’s kick was sliced, leaving Munster to celebrate their rise to the top of the Magners League standings.