Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

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Preview: Cardiff Blues v Munster

Charlie Talbot-Smith 16 Feb 2018
CJ Stander is held up by Sam Hobbs

Cardiff Blues will look to beat a Conference A rival for the second week in a row when Munster visit the Welsh capital.

The Blues beat third-placed Cheetahs 25-20 in their last outing and can strengthen their grip on Champions Cup qualification with victory at Cardiff Arms Park.

What’s at stake?

Blues can ward Connacht off their tail with a win, which would also further chop the gap to the Cheetahs who are 11 points in front in third.

Meanwhile, Munster can advance their case for a home Guinness PRO14 semi-final with a third successive win.

Ahead of the clash, they are 12 points behind leaders Glasgow Warriors.

Team news (Cardiff): Record appearance maker Taufa’ao Filise’s inclusion is the only change to the side that beat the Cheetahs.

The Tongan replaces Anton Peikrishvili at tighthead prop, the Georgian called up for international duty.

Wales lock Seb Davies has been released from international duty to start at second row, with Six Nations squad members Dillon Lewis and Tomos Williams named on the bench.

Team news (Munster): Munster have gone strong again, making ten changes from the side that strolled past Zebre.

Jack O’Donoghue captains the province for the first time, as Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall and Stephen Archer all feature in a totally fresh front three.

Chris Cloete comes in at flanker, Gerbrandt Grobler makes his first PRO14 start this term and Stephen Fitzgerald also starts for the first time this season after signing a new deal.

Talking points

Cardiff head coach Danny Wilson is expecting Munster to play a far more open, expansive game than last week’s against the Cheetahs.

“We’ve certainly had to prepare to face two very different sides in Cheetahs and Munster,” he said.

“Cheetahs were very loose, in a dangerous way, with a very dangerous back three.

“Munster play a bit more of a power game with a strong set-piece and a very accurate kicking game, which we’ll have to deal with.

“This is a massive home game for us and what’s pleasing for me is that home form has been really good. It’s an exciting game for supporters to come to watch.”

Key battle: Taufao’ao Filise vs Dave Kilcoyne

The battle between two returning props in the scrummage should determine which side can set a platform at Cardiff Arms Park.

For Ireland international Kilcoyne, this is an important game as he continues his return from injury and tries to enter Joe Schmidt’s thinking.

But in Filise he’ll be up against a griselled PRO14 campaigner who knows what it takes to win games of rugby at this level.

Key stat

The Blues have been defeated just once at home in the Championship since September: 11-14 by Scarlets on New Year’s Eve.

Did you know?

Munster’s Alex Wootton is the 5th highest try-scorer in the Guinness PRO14 but has crossed the whitewash in away games only twice.

Cardiff: Rhun Williams; Aled Summerhill, Garyn Smith, Rey Lee-Lo, Owen Lane; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Gethin Jenkins (C), Matthew Rees, Taufa’ao Filise, George Earle, Seb Davies, Macauley Cook, Ellis Jenkins, Nick Williams

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Rhys Gill, Dillon Lewis, Josh Turnbull, Olly Robinson, Tomos Williams, Steven Shingler, Ryan Edwards

Munster: Stephen Fitzgerald; Darren Sweetnam, Sammy Arnold, Rory Scannell, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall, John Ryan; Gerbrandt Grobler, Darren O’Shea; Jack O’Donoghue (C), Chris Cloete, Robin Copeland.

Replacements: Mike Sherry, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Jean Kleyn, Dave O’Callaghan, James Hart, Tyler Bleyendaal, Simon Zebo.

Referee: Stuart Berry (SARU)

Assistant Referees: Dan Jones, Rhys Thomas (WRU)

TMO: Tim Hayes (WRU)

TV: Live on Sky Sports

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Ticket prices start at just €35 for adults and €10 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Cardiff Blues weather a Munster storm

Andrew Lawton 17 Feb 2018
Garyn Smith, Cardiff Blues

Jarrod Evans’ composure from the kicking tee gave Cardiff blues an impressive 25-18 win over Munster at Cardiff Arms Park, as the hosts weathered an Irish storm.

First-half tries from Macauley Cook, Lloyd Williams and Owen Lane were enough to see off a second-half resurgence from the visitors as they struck back through Chris Cloete and Stephen Fitzgerald.

The hosts opened the scoring after a tight first 15, with a well worked line-out move followed by some great off-loads and a long looping ball from Ellis Jenkins putting Cook in space to go over in the corner.

The lead was extended when Evans pumped a long ball into Munster’s half and Williams closed down his counterpart’s defensive box-kick, shrugged off two tackles from five metres out and dived over for Cardiff’s second.

Ian Keatley’s re-start straight went straight out and the Blues scored immediately from the scrum, with Lee-Lo putting a delightful grubber through for Owen Lane to race onto and go over in the corner after fending off Keatley.

Munster responded well and managed to get on the board before half time as a driving maul from a line-out led to Chris Cloete picking and going to cross the whitewash.

The visitor’s ramped up the pressure in the second half, dominating possession and territory in the first 10 minutes after the break, with a Keatley penalty closing the gap to 11 points.

Munster took advantage of the Blues’ ill-discipline as Matthew Rees was sent to the bin after a number of offsides.

The inevitable score came after the Munster forwards ploughed into contact pulling in the Blues defence, and quick hands from the backs exploited the extra space for Stephen Fitzgerald to trot over.

Keatley added the extras to cut the hosts’ lead to four points with half an hour to play, setting up an intense finish at the Arms Park Stadium.

Cardiff weathered the storm and Evans slotted a penalty to put them ahead by seven and settle the nerves with twelve minutes to play.

Evans nailed another penalty to take the hosts 10 points clear and secure the win, but Tyler Bleyendaal slotted a kick from the tee in the last seconds of the match to earn Munster a losing bonus point.

Victory for the Blues closes the gap on the Cheetahs in the Guinness PRO14 Conference A to just eight points, whilst Munster remain in second place in the table.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Ticket prices start at just €35 for adults and €10 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138