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Preview: Munster Rugby v Cardiff Blues

client 6 Sep 2016
Rey Lee-Lo

Cardiff Blues head coach Danny Wilson is not in search of a tonic to cure his selection headache for Friday’s trip to Munster – instead hoping to ‘suffer’ with it more regularly with full availability at his disposal.

The return of captain Gethin Jenkins is one of four changes Wilson has made for the trip to Irish Independent Park, with Alex Cuthbert, Gareth Anscombe and Kristian Dacey all set to start.

In addition, Josh Turnbull, Sam Warburton and Lloyd Williams, who played no part in last weekend’s 34-16 defeat of Edinburgh, have been named among the replacements.

And Wilson said: “We sat round a table as a coaching group and we got the selection headache we wanted in terms of the recruitment we have done.
“We had some really tough decisions to make. Ultimately some of those decisions are based around winning a game of rugby and secondly making sure we develop a squad.
“I feel we have two players in every position of real quality, if we can keep everyone fit then selection becomes difficult which is what we want.
“If you look at the teams that win things, they do it off the back of a squad. We didn’t have that last year but are beginning to grow that.

“We believe we are on the right track to building something but it’s still in that building phase and it will be for a while.

“We’ve had one week at home but know we have a huge challenge on Friday night.”
Munster have made two changes from the side that defeated Scarlets last weekend with Ian Keatley and Andrew Conway coming into the starting XV.
Hooker Duncan Casey, without a Guinness PRO12 appearance since November, is named among the replacements.

The Welshmen’s 37-28 victory at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park in round 12 last season ended a run of five successive Munster victories in this fixture.

Cardiff Blues are the only visiting side to have won on three separate occasions in Cork in the Guinness PRO12, in seasons 2006/07, 2007/08 and 2012/13.

Despite seeing his team win last week, new Munster chief Rassie Erasmus is expecting an improved performance against the Blues

He said: “It was gutsy and determined and the guys were prepared to work at their game out there.

“But both tactically and technically there was so many things that were not spot on, there is so much to work on. That always helps not to get carried away.

“It’s a short turnaround and we have so many things to rectify, and I’m pretty sure we won’t rectify all of them before Friday and there will be some mistakes as well.

“As long as we go game by game and improve from experience of the previous weekend’s game, we’ll get better and better.

“The way we played on Friday won’t win us any championships, or any cups. But that’s something to build on.”

Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:

Played 26, Munster Rugby won 16, Cardiff Blues won 10

At Irish Independent Park, 7:35pm. Live on TG4 and BBC Wales
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU, 50th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Craig Evans (WRU), Nigel Correll (IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: Gordon Black (IRFU)
TMO: Jim Yuille (SRU)

Fish scores late as Blues battle past Munster

Charlie Bennett 9 Sep 2016

Dan Fish scored the winning try as Cardiff Blues battled past Munster 24-23 in a fascinating battle at Irish Independent Park to secure their second win of the season.

The full-back burst through to score with 12 minutes left just after Munster had seemingly gained control, and a strong defensive effort repelled the Irish side in the final minutes.

Tom James crossed twice for the Blues in an open first half, but Munster gradually edged back and took the lead through Dave Kilcoyne’s close-range try in the final quarter.

However, Fish won it for the visitors after a slick move, to maintain their 100% start to the season after an opening-day win against Edinburgh.

Cardiff head coach Danny Wilson opted to stock up on experience for the trip to Cork by recalling veteran prop Gethin Jenkins, along with fit-again winger Alex Cuthbert.

They shot out of the blocks and almost grabbed an early try through Cory Allen, but Darren Sweetnam’s last-ditch tackle forced the Welsh centre into touch on the left wing.

However, they could not be kept out for long as James evaded several tackles after stepping inside to score his 50th Blues try.

Munster, roared on by the home crowd, hit back immediately after an intelligent kick over the top from Ian Keatley dropped into a dangerous area and Sweetnam latched onto it before off-loading to Andrew Conway to score.

After a breathless start the intensity dropped with a tactical kicking game taking over, before Gareth Anscombe slotted over a penalty.

And the visitors stretched their lead even further before the break after centre Ray Lee-Lo made a powerful break with Munster’s defence stretched, before slipping a neat pass inside to James to easily run in for his second.

Munster introduced flanker CJ Stander after half time, and his impact was immediate as he helped win a penalty soon after getting involved.

The Blues countered that by bringing on Wales captain Sam Warburton for his first appearance of the season following injury.

But it was the Irish side who gained the upper hand as they raised their intensity and speed of passing, and they were rewarded when the forwards won a penalty which Keatley slotted over to reduce the deficit to four points.

Forward power worked again just after the hour mark as replacement Kilcoyne bundled over from close range after they ground Cardiff down with a relentless drive.

Anscombe had the chance to bring the Blues level minutes later with a long-range penalty but, even though he struck it sweetly, it fell agonisingly short.

But Wilson’s men kept plugging away and eventually got through as Lee-Lo and Lloyd Williams combined to create space, and Fish burst through to touch down.

Munster responded straight away as Keatley kicked another penalty to get the gap down to just one point with 10 minutes left, but the Blues’ defence was impenetrable from there as they closed the game out for an impressive win.

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