‘Twas like days of yore when folks would gather around the wireless as it was known then (different to Wi-Fi for the younger readers, ask Grandpa) to hear match reports from Croke Park in the big smoke or other venues like Semple Stadium in Thurles. The Cardiff game had been rescheduled from January to accommodate the European Cup games rescheduled from November so the TV cameras were not available as the Under 20s Six Nations was on at the same time. A few of us gathered to keep an eye on proceedings in Scotstoun where Leinster were playing Glasgow and in Donnybrook where the Irish Under 20s were playing Scotland while checking Twitter and match trackers on the Pro12 and MunsterFans sites. BBC Wales radio coverage was to include the game but understandably they were a lot more interested in their Under 20s game as Wales went on to win their first 6 Nations title at that level.
The first half in Cardiff was low scoring – a try and a penalty apiece but Rhys Patchell converted Macauley Cook’s try to give them a 10-8 lead at half-time. It was great to read that Darren Sweetnam had scored his first senior try as he has been impressing in recent weeks with Earls and Zebo away. I read that Rory Scannell made the initial line-break which set up that try. He has also taken his opportunities with the senior team very well this season (he is still listed on the Munster Rugby site under the A squad so his senior appearances are not reflected on that page!)
The second half featured 3 tries in the space of five minutes. Unfortunately 2 were scored by Cardiff – Matthew Rees and Garyn Smith but Mike Sherry kept up the scoring run of our front row players grabbing a try from the back of a maul in between those 2 scores. Then man of the match Rhys Patchell struck to score and convert his own try.
Another promising Academy prospect, second row Sean McCarthy made his competitive debut in the closing minutes. Jack O’Donoghue scored a try which Johnny Holland converted to move Munster back within losing bonus point range but a late penalty opportunity for Cardiff was scored by Jarrod Evans to send Munster home empty handed.
Credit is due to Cardiff who have already beaten both Connacht and Ulster at home this season and lost out to Leinster by just a point. Rather than bore you with details of me checking Twitter for updates here are some quotes from readers- or as I think of them – members of the WTView community who were in Cardiff.
Peter was onto me via Twitter Saturday morning and his initial review was: Disappointed with the result last night but the young guns showed up well. He also added a more detailed comment after I had published this..
James gave me his insights via my FB page: The Cardiff line speed in defence killed most of our attacking moves. Williams was slow in getting the ball away at times, O’Donoghue gave a costly penalty away, Saili threw an intercept and Kilcoyne was stripped but having said all that, the team bust a gut. Some of Cardiff’s tries were soft due to poor defending and we got turned over too often in their 22. There was some very good attacking play from Munster and I saw signs of progress. A Cardiff supporter said to me that ours was a team of youngsters up against a much more experienced Cardiff one.
As well as providing his super photos Daryl wrote: The first few Cardiff tries were soft unfortunately, they got lucky with a ripped ball that they ran in too. We played well and replied well with the 2 tries in the second half, just not enough. Click this link to see all of his match photos
Cardiff Blues: Dan Fish; Aled Summerhill, Garyn Smith, Rey Lee-Lo, Blaine Scully; Rhys Patchell, Lloyd Williams; Brad Thyer, Matthew Rees (capt), Salesi Ma’afu, Cam Dolan, Josh Turnbull, Macauley Cook, Josh Navidi, Ellis Jenkins. Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Thomas Davies, Taufa’ao Filise, Lou Reed, Manoa Vosawai, Lewis Jones, Jarrod Evans, Gavin Evans.
Munster: Andrew Conway; Darren Sweetnam, Francis Saili, Rory Scannell, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Mike Sherry, John Ryan, Dave Foley, Billy Holland (capt), Jack O’Donoghue, Robin Copeland, Dave O’Callaghan. Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Sean McCarthy, Jordan Coghlan, Cathal Sheridan, Johnny Holland, David Johnston.
There is a lot of frustration amongst supporters who want to see the team challenging for honours, not trying to cling on to qualify for the top tier European competition next season. Our defensive and disciplinary lapses need to be addressed. Last season we had a tight defence, this season our points difference after 17 games of -5 speaks volumes.
That frustration is also shared by former players – Ronan O’Gara’s column in the Examiner this week is worth reading for his views about the new Director of Rugby position and how crucial it is to get the right person for the role. Hopefully the famed brains trust will get this critical decision right. Some people won’t renew their season tickets and they are entitled to show their frustration that way. Tickets are available on the day for any game they decide to attend. I will renew to make my contribution to the team I support so they can make plans accordingly to fund the DoR, new players, the Academy etc. Hopefully my faith will be rewarded with more good days out next season.
Glasgow came out 12-6 winners at Scotstoun and with a game in hand and three of their games against the Italian teams I think our battle to qualify for the European Champions Cup will be to keep ahead of Edinburgh. Given we have to travel to Dublin and Galway our international players can’t come back soon enough. It was great to see three of them score in the Ireland v Scotland game today – CJ, Keith on his 50th international cap and Conor. Tommy’s return is also key, our lack of cover at 7 has been an issue for most of the season, despite the best efforts of Jack and Dave. Donnacha Ryan back to his best after his man of the match game against Italy where Simon Zebo also had us all talking about his sweet offload to set up the move leading to Heaslip’s try both have a lot to bring while Peter’s return sometime in April will also be a great boost to the team.
The Under 20s also won and hopefully the ladies will make it 3/3 on Sunday.