Pro14: Munster 38-27 Cardiff Blues

Jarrod Evans and James Cronin
Munster prop James Cronin shrugs off the attentions of Cardiff Blues fly-half Jarrod Evans at Thomond Park
Pro14: Munster v Cardiff Blues
Munster (17) 38
Tries: Coombes 2, O'Byrne, O'Donoghue, Hanrahan Cons: Healy 4, Hanrahan Pen: Healy
Cardiff Blues (13) 27
Tries: Lee-Lo, Summerhill, Halaholo Cons: Evans 3 Pens: Evans 2

Munster moved to the top of Conference B of the Pro14 by securing a bonus-point 38-27 win over Cardiff Blues.

Rey Lee-Lo crossed for the visitors early on but two Gavin Coombes tries helped Munster lead 17-13 at half-time.

Kevin O'Byrne, Jack O'Donoghue and JJ Hanrahan added second-half tries for the hosts while Aled Summerhill and Willis Halaholo touched down for Blues.

Both sides went into the match unbeaten after winning their first two games but Munster now lead Blues by four points.

Connacht are level on points with the Welsh side, who led the group before this weekend's third set of fixtures.

Both sides were much changed from their previous outings, with Munster making nine changes to their starting line-up for the encounter at Thomond Park. and Blues six.

Ben Healy kicked a penalty and four conversions for the home side, withvisiting fly-half Evans landing two penalties and three conversions.

Lloyd Williams' late call-up to the Wales squad meant Kristian Dacey captained the Blues.

It took only a minute for centre Lee-Lo to burst in behind the posts following a slick set-up by Halaholo and Evans, who quickly converted.

Halaholo's subsequent sin-binning for a trip on Dan Goggin invited Munster forward, and Coombes burrowed over for the levelling seven-pointer.

James Botham's defence-splitting break set up a 16th-minute Evans penalty, before Munster turned down a simple three points in response.

After John Hodnett was held up twice, Coombes' 26th-minute grounding was spotted by Italian referee Andrea Piardi.

Healy's conversion was quickly followed by a second Evans penalty, but Healy was able to punish Botham's high tackle on O'Byrne for a four-point half-time advantage.

Openside Botham's breakdown smarts got Cardiff out of early second-half trouble, with Munster unable to capitalise on some evasive running by their backs.

Although the post denied Healy from the tee, Cardiff's well-organised defence was breached soon after. A penalty was tucked into the corner and hooker O'Byrne plunged over from the lineout drive with Healy converting.

The territory-starved Blues hit back within three minutes, a snappy break by fly-half Evans was finished by Summerhill with a deft sidestep around Mike Haley. Evans also converted from the right for 24-20.

However, Lee-Lo's fumble of the restart allowed Munster to build for O'Donoghue's bonus point effort, the player-of-the-match proving unstoppable from close range. Healy converted but again Cardiff struck back.

Munster went too high on Halaholo who had the power to crash over off another well-worked move from a line-out. But Munster's eagerness to put the ball through the hands was rewarded with a superb 67th-minute match winner.

Some sparkling build-up play, including some deft deliveries from Rhys Marshall and Damian De Allende, had Hanrahan looping around from the right wing to end the hopes of the tiring Blues.

Munster: Haley; Nash, Goggin, Scannell, Sweetnam; Healy, Casey; Cronin, O'Byrne, Archer, F Wycherley, Holland; O'Donoghue, Hodnett, Coombes.

Replacements: Marshall, J Wycherley, Salanoa, Kleyn, Cloete, McCarthy, Hanrahan, de Allende.

Cardiff Blues: Morgan; Summerhill, Lee-Lo, Halaholo, Amos; Evans, Williams; Domachowski, Dacey, Arhip, Murphy, Thornton, Ratti, Botham, Robinson.

Replacements: Lewis, Thyer, Andrews, Moore, Lawrence, Jones, Tovey, Smith.

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