Munster target home URC semi-final after crushing Cardiff at Musgrave Park

A bonus-point win thrilled the large crowd in Cork
Munster target home URC semi-final after crushing Cardiff at Musgrave Park

Craig Casey of Munster, right, celebrates with team-mates Calvin Nash, left, and Alex Kendellen after scoring his side's fourth try at Musgrave Park. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Munster 42 Cardiff Rugby 21 

MUNSTER secured a bonus-point victory over Cardiff at Musgrave Park on Friday evening to keep their hunt for a home semi-final in the URC alive.

Cardiff started brightly, scoring the opener in just the second minute. Loosehead Rhys Carré punched the initial hole with a huge carry, before Jarrod Evans and Hallam Amos combined to put Seb Davies clear on the right, and the big second row was able to crash through an attempted Mike Haley tackle to score.

Munster levelled with a superb try of their own in the 6th minute. Simon Zebo had kept the ball alive brilliantly by the left touchline, and when Conor Murray and Ben Healy went right Rory Scannell sent a huge looping pass to Jack O’Donoghue on the right, who fed the supporting Haley out wide to run in an excellent score.

Cardiff were in again in the 12th minute, with outside centre Rey Lee-Lo walking in a simple try after the Welsh side had carved Munster open on the right-wing once more.

Ben Healy notched a 19th-minute penalty, after a wonderful ruck clear-out by Thomas Ahern had won the opportunity, and Munster took the lead for the first time in the 26th minute when Haley crossed for a brilliant second, in a try that he bookended with two sparkling slaloming runs.

Healy slotted another penalty in the 33rd minute, and they scored yet another scintillating team try in the 39th minute with Healy and Haley to the fore, which ended with lock Thomas Ahern crashing over from close range to give Munster a 27-14 lead at the break.

Cardiff struck first in the second half when scrum-half Lloyd Williams produced a wonderful step to snipe through the Munster cover at the back of a ruck in the 55th minute, but Healy took them out of range again with a 60th-minute penalty, and two minutes later Munster got the bonus point in the bag when Craig Casey ran in a try after a brilliant O’Donoghue offload, and Casey sniped another in the 76th minute to put the cherry on top.

Joey Carbery of Munster offloads possession before tackled by Matthew Screech of Cardiff Blues. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Joey Carbery of Munster offloads possession before tackled by Matthew Screech of Cardiff Blues. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Scorers for Munster: Healy (2 pens, 3 cons), Carbery (1 con), Haley, Casey (2 tries each), Ahern (1 try).

Cardiff: Evans (3 cons), Davies, Lee-Lo, Williams (1 try each).

MUNSTER: Haley; Nash, Farrell, Scannell, Zebo; Healy, Murray; Loughman, Barron, Ryan; Kleyn, Ahern; O’Mahony (c), Kendellen, O’Donoghue.

Subs: Buckley for Barron (52), Wycherley and Knox (57), Jenkins, Casey and Carbery for Kleyn, Murray and Healy (61), J Daly for O’Donoghue (64), S Daly for Zebo (70).

CARDIFF: Amos; Lane, Lee-Lo, Llewellyn, Cabango; Evans, Williams; Carré, Dacey, Lewis; Davies, Thornton; Botham, Navidi (c), Ratti.

Subs: Screech for Thornton (18), Priestland for Amos (30), Assiratti for Lewis (61), Myhill, Hill and Smith for Dacey, Williams and Llewellyn (64).

Referee: Sam Grove-White (SRU).

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