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Munster's Joey Carbery kicks a conversion late in the game.
Munster's Joey Carbery kicks a conversion late in the game.
Image: Ryan Hiscott/INPHO

Joey Carbery makes first appearance in over a year as Munster prevail

The Irish side edged past Cardiff Blues in the Guinness Pro14.
Feb 26th 2021, 10:12 PM 21,262 30

Cardiff Blues 11

Munster 20

JOEY CARBERY made his first appearance on a rugby pitch since January 2020 and played 17 minutes as Munster edged past Cardiff Blues in the Guinness Pro14.

Carbery’s return after his recovery from persistent ankle trouble is a huge cause for cheer for Ireland head coach Andy Farrell after two straight Six Nations losses.

But more pressingly, it is a big boost for Munster supremo Johann van Graan, although he would not have been pleased by his team’s display in the Welsh capital, which lacked accuracy and ruthlessness.

In the end, they did enough to hang on thanks to Jean Kleyn’s crucial second-half try, but arguably they were lucky to do so as Cardiff missed key kicks at goal.

Munster had plenty of early possession and Damian de Allende was a prominent figure.

Throughout the first half they forced Cardiff into some serious cover tackling work with No 8 Jack O’Sullivan also showing up well. Still, it was the home side who went ahead.

Cardiff flanker Shane Lewis-Hughes produced some superb breakdown work and his scrum-half team-mate Jamie Hill intercepted a Munster pass and booted ahead.

Mason Grady also made a clean break. It had been a fine pass from Ben Thomas who sent Grady away and a couple of minutes later he did it again to send Seb Davies galloping through a gap to the line. Thomas’ kick hit the post.

Munster lock Kleyn was fortunate to escape a card for a nasty ruck clear-out of Ellis Jenkins who was again in impressive form. Jenkins produced a try-saving tackle and a breakdown penalty win.

Soon after his try, Davies was yellow carded for coming into a ruck following a big hit by Thomas. A scuffle ensued for which Davies was deemed to be the instigator.

It was a frustrating first 27 minutes for Munster, but JJ Hanrahan did kick a simple penalty.

Cardiff’s Wales wing Owen Lane then rampaged down the wing in dangerous fashion.

Thomas and Hanrahan exchanged penalties before the break to leave two points between the teams.

Hanrahan’s monster penalty effort struck the angle of post and crossbar at the start of the second half and caused a mass panic in the home defence.

Cardiff continued to spoil almost constant Munster possession impressively with flankers Lewis-Hughes and the outstanding Jenkins a thorn in the away side.

Thomas kicked a huge penalty to send Munster five points behind. Van Graan immediately replaced his entire front row and it worked as they crashed over between the sticks.

Kleyn was the scorer from close range after fine approach work from Hanrahan who couldn’t miss the simple conversion. Thomas attempted a penalty from halfway which fell short in response.

Thomas’ next penalty attempt saw him hit the post for the second time in the evening and the missed points were always going to be crucial in such a tight game.

Carbery entered the field in place of Rory Scannell and moved into centre where he was instantly crushed by Rey Lee-Lo. It was some welcome back for Carbery.

Cardiff pushed for a response, but their attacking game, which fired in the first half, didn’t do likewise in the second. Munster were also on top at scrum time in the eyes of referee Adam Jones.

And with just a couple of minutes left, Munster’s forwards got to work and drove over the line to seal victory. Niall Scannell was the scorer and Carbery showed he has lost none of his class by nailing the touchline conversion to deny Cardiff a losing bonus point.

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Scorers

Cardiff Blues
Try: Davies 11
Pens: Thomas 37, 53

Munster
Try: Kleyn 54, N Scannell 77
Cons: Hanrahan 55, Carbery 78
Pens: Hanrahan 27, 38

Cardiff Blues: Morgan, Lane, Grady, Lee-Lo, Summerhill; Thomas, Hill (Jones 67); Domachowski (Bevacqua 73), Myhill (Belcher 40), Arhip (Assiratti 66), Davies (Ratti 62), Thornton, Lewis-Hughes (Robinson 62), Jenkins, Turnbull (capt)

Replacements not used: Fish, Llewellyn

Munster: Haley; Nash (Sweetnam 75), R Scannell (Carbery 63), De Allende, Daly; Hanrahan, McCarthy; Cronin (O’Connor 53), O’Byrne (N Scannell 53), Ryan (Salanoa 53) (Ryan 73), Kleyn, Wycherley (Holland 63); O’Donoghue (capt) (Coombes 63), Cloete, O’Sullivan

Replacement not used: Patterson

Referee: Adam Jones (WRU)

Star man: Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues)

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Alex Bywater

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