At Break for the Border (BFTB) a larger than usual gathering of the Dublin branch of the Supporters club, swelled by an influx to the capital for the All Blacks game ensured a good atmosphere with plenty of banter. Due to a malfunction with the big screen the Red Army was in the front section of BFTB rather than their usual reserved area towards the rear. I wonder what unsuspecting people who walked into the pub made of all the red jerseys and noise for a league game being watched in the centre of Dublin. The referee got as much heckling as if we were there on the terrace and there was plenty to cheer and clap for, in addition to groans when attacks broke down, support did not get there in time or the teams resorted to aimless kicking. We were also entertained by the informative comments relayed by Jim from his mother’s texts. T’was like she was there with us 🙂
Rob, one of my twitter buddies who had travelled down to the game sent his pitch-side perspective via Twitter. Peter, another Twitter friend of the blog who was also there has promised to leave a comment with his perspective. All comments welcome.
Cardiff in November, training disrupted by the Autumn Internationals, missing the leadership of Peter and Paul along with other experienced players through injury, this was a challenge for Munster albeit the bookies favourite by a 5 point margin. Cardiff were also missing many players to the Wales team but made the better start. For the first 15 minutes Munster hardly got their hands on the ball other than to give away penalties, fortunately out of Humberstone’s range, although Sheridan kicked and chased a good ball through and Dougall thought he had scored only to be called back. Cardiff converted a penalty on 13 minutes but then Munster found their mojo as Jones ran a great line off Laulala to score a try.
Ten minutes later a super maul led to Varley’s pick and go to score the 2nd. My pick of the tries is the third one scored by Cronin but made by Sheridan who blocked the kick and gathers the ball as you can see in this clip:
Jones ran another good line off Casey resulting in the bonus point try for Conway on 44 minutes. Adrenaline must be great as Conway managed to accelerate brilliantly then and when chasing kick-offs, despite limping badly from early in the game. It was great to see him score his first competitive try for Munster before being replaced by Hurley on 55 minutes. JJ Hanrahan had a good night, kicking all 4 conversions and a penalty. He is leading the League’s Golden Boot Award table for the season to date.
Poor discipline prevented Munster scoring again in the second half as first Stander and then Sherry were sent to the bin. Munster did well to concede just 7 points in the second half, during the first of the sinbinnings when the Cardiff hooker Dacey was the first to find a way through the Munster defence in the league since the loss to Treviso in September. (We won’t mention the Heineken Cup!)
Highlights included some good breaks by Stander, Kilcoyne, Hurley and Sheridan, putting the pressure on Cardiff through effective mauling, blockdowns, winning a scrum against the head and defence and the aforementioned running effective lines off Laulala. Congrats to the new J Holland who made his League debut even if he was only involved in tackling for the last few minutes of the game. Here’s hoping Johnny has a good a career – as Jason did – for Munster. To leave with a bonus point win was a great result, albeit at times the game blew hot and cold, keeping Munster top of the table and gaining momentum leading into the key games in December against Perpignan. Munster will keep their focus on Dragons, who will have a bounce in their step after beating Glasgow away from home in this round. Full match highlights are available here:
Munster: Felix Jones; Andrew Conway, Casey Laulala, Ivan Dineen, Johne Murphy; JJ Hanrahan, Cathal Sheridan; James Cronin, Damien Varley, BJ Botha; Dave Foley, Billy Holland; Dave O’Callaghan, Sean Dougall, CJ Stander. Replacements: Mike Sherry, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Donncha O’Callaghan, James Coughlan, Duncan Williams, Johnny Holland, Denis Hurley.