Munster Rugby | Report | Earn bonus points for Munster Over Cardiff

Munster picked up a bonus points victory over Cardiff Blues at Thomond Park on Friday night to claim three of four wins in the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup.

The team and management stayed on the pitch long after the final whistle blasted on an emotional night as CJ Stander, Tommy O’Donnell, James Cronin and Nick McCarthy played their final matches at Thomond Park.

It was a thrilling encounter that could have gone either way, but a 74th-minute try from Keynan Knox secured a crucial victory for Johann van Graan’s side.

Niall Scannell hit rolling mauls twice with Fineen Wycherley also scoring for Munster with Joey Carbery perfect off the tee, making four conversions and one penalty.

The bonus points victory sees Munster rise to the top of the Rainbow Cup, but Benetton will return to the top if he beats Connacht in Italy on Saturday.

Cardiff Blues started well and scored the first down after just two and a half minutes as Jarrod Evans sent Willis Halaholo through a gap in midfield and Tomos Williams touched down despite Shane Daly’s recovery tackle. Evans converted and Cardiff led 7-0.

A powerful brand CJ Stander snapped in the back of a melee gave Munster a great attacking platform, but Niall Scannell was bonkers for getting up and luck was gone.

The Blues extended their lead in the 18th minute with a penalty from Evans bringing the score to 10-0 for the visitors.

James Cronin’s turnover at 26 minutes finally put Munster on the front foot and Scannell scored the first down four minutes later as Jean Kleyn took the roster and made a quick transfer to Stander and crippled Munster.

A double tackle from Cronin and Tommy O’Donnell led to another penalty from Munster and the hosts were again clinical as Carbery kicked Cardiff 22 and Wycherley scored after Damian de Allende made difficult yards.

Niall Scannell scored from another rolling maul in the 37th minute. Player of the match Andrew Conway won the air battle brilliantly and Mike Haley tackled Evans in contact with the field doing the rest.

Carbery threw all three conversions, which would prove to be crucial, near the sideline.

A high tackle from Olly Robinson on Conway gave Munster a chance early in the second half, but Cardiff defended the maul well and won a scrum.

The visitors fought back with a second try from scrum-half Williams in the 45th minute after a well-worked move with Hallam Amos providing the assist. Evans’ conversion was 21-17.

De Allende was as impressive as ever and won a breakdown penalty after 48 minutes with Carbery’s three point moving the hosts seven ahead, 24-17.

Munster received a heavy blow when Haley was sentenced in the 54th minute for making contact with Amos’ header in a tackle on the right wing.

Evans threw the resulting penalty into the corner and with Munster’s 14 men defending well at the start, Josh Turnbull finally paused in midfield before unloading for Lloyd Williams to score.

Evans converted to do 24-all with 23 minutes left.

Munster was nutted for getting up in the 69th minute and Evans moved Cardiff three points ahead, with the Welsh capital side closing in on their first victory at Thomond Park in the professional era.

Munster was an asset, however, when substitute Gavin Coombes regained possession from the breakdown and Munster attacked the left wing through his other substitute Peter O’Mahony.

The hosts had the advantage on penalties as they moved through the stages near the Cardiff line, but they didn’t need them as Knox came through for the all-important fourth down and Carbery converted.

There was still time for Cardiff to attack and Dai Young’s impressive side were awarded a penalty in Munster 22 in the 83rd minute. Before he could kick the corner, Stander used his Captain’s Challenge to check for a possible Cardiff offense on the ruck.

Scrum-half Lloyd Williams was ruled to have returned the ball to the scrum and the challenge continued to give Munster a hard-earned victory on a heart-stirring night.

Guinness Rainbow Cup PRO14 Round 4

CJ Stander, Tommy O’Donnell, James Cronin and Nick McCarthy played their last matches at Thomond Park for Munster.

Andrew Conway has been named Guinness Player of the Match.

The bonus points victory sees Munster rise to the top of the Rainbow Cup, but Benetton will return to the top if he beats Connacht in Italy on Saturday.

Munster: Mike Haley (Jack Crowley, 64); Andrew Conway, Damian of Allende, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; Joey Carbery, Craig Casey (Nick McCarthy, 76); James Cronin (Jeremy Loughman, 64), Niall Scannell (Diarmuid Barron, 69), Stephen Archer (Keynan Knox, 64); Jean Kleyn (Gavin Coombes, 60), Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue (Peter O’Mahony, 50), Tommy O’Donnell (Jack O’Sullivan, 45) CJ Stander (C).

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Juana Renfrow

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