Saturday, 12 September 2009

Blues suffer further anguish

In a battle of champions, the kings of Europe proved too hot to handle for the EDF champs when Munster strolled to a comfortable victory over a disappointing Cardiff Blues who racked up their second consecutive Magners League defeat on the trot.

The Blues struggled to get a foothold in the opening exchanges as the visitors struggled to contain the men in red throughout.

David Young’s side didn’t do themselves any favours by being extremely loose. The Blues lost two lineouts in their own half and failed to find touch as they tried to relieve the pressure against the European champions.

Despite their dominance it wasn’t until the 18th minute that Munster turned their pressure into points. Kiwi fly-half landed his second penalty attempt in total silence, making amends for an earlier miss.

Against the run of play the Blues had a chance to immediately hit back when Doug Howlett was penalised for not releasing the ball. Fellow Kiwi Ben Blair stepped up to level the scores at 3-3.

Munster continued to make all the running to frustrate the Blues. Eventually lock Deiniol Jones was penalised for being off side and Manning landed a long range penalty to put the home side 6-3 ahead after 25 minutes.

Marcus Horan powered his way over from close range three minutes later and with Manning landing the conversion, Munster had a 10 point lead.

The home side continued to dominate and when Xavier Rush was penalised for not releasing the ball, Manning was always going to knock over the penalty, which he did with aplomb to take Munster to a 16-3 lead.

But the EDF Energy Cup champions hit back just as Munster were thinking about taking things easy at the halftime break. Blair gathered his own chip before offloading to Rhys Thomas who popped the ball to galloping Rush who showed Peter Stringer a clean pair of heels to race to the try-line. With Blair’s conversion, the Blues were only 16-10 down at the break after being totally outgunned.

Blair nudged the Blues even closer two minutes into the second half with a well struck penalty but just as they looked like getting back in to the contest flanker Maama Molitika was sin binned for a shoulder charge on Manning. The fly-half added insult to injury when he restored Munster’s six point lead with the resulting penalty.

The impressive Denis Leamy wriggled his way over in the 60th minute to take the Blues out of losing bonus point range. Rush did his best to get the Blues back within range with a bullocking 60m run but just like everything else the Blues tried on the night, the move fizzled out without any reward.


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