Classy Munster overcome Cardiff
PRO14 MATCH REPORT: British & Irish Lion Conor Murray celebrated his first Munster appearance of the season with a try as Rassie Erasmus' side bounced back to winning ways in the Pro14.
Munster's unbeaten start to the season was brought to an end by fellow Conference A high-flyers Glasgow Warriors in Round Four but they rallied to dispatch Cardiff Blues 39-16 at Thomond Park
Try-scorer Murray was joined in the hosts' starting line-up by fellow Lions Peter O'Mahony and Christiaan Stander, who also toured New Zealand this summer.
Cardiff got their noses in front in the eighth minute, with Jarrod Evans dissecting the posts to make it 3-0, but that only served to spur Munster to action, with the home side then powering through the phases at a rate of knots.
As the red shirts poured forward, a powerful run from Rory Scannell saw him bustle his way through a host of bodies before teeing up the returning Murray to finish things off at the base of the posts, Ian Keatley converting.
With 20 minutes on the clock, 21-year-old Evans tucked away another long-range penalty for the Blues to reduce the deficit to a single point and it wasn't long before the visitors were back in front.
Willis Halaholo's clever decoy pass sent Cardiff's route of attack out to the left flank but they slickly worked the ball back from whence it came, with the Blues constructing a two-on-one situation that allowed Steve Shingler to tee up Josh Turnbull for his team's first try of the game, Evans adding the extras.
In the 29th minute, Munster's Keatley landed a penalty but shortly afterwards, Evans matched that feat and continued his impressive kicking display to make it 16-10 to the visitors.
Another infringement allowed Keatley to convert with the boot to haul Munster back to within three points and on the stroke of half-time, with Scannell again driving forward with intent, a forward knock saw them miss out on the chance to head into the break in the ascendancy.
After play restarted, Munster opted for a succession of scrums as they strived for their second try of the game, with Cardiff receiving their first yellow card of the season as Taufa'ao Filise was penalised, and following an extended period of pressure, the hosts' John Ryan lunged over the line, Keatley adding the extras.
The hosts continued to cash in on their man advantage as, in the 56th minute, Scannell skewered the Blues back line and blitzed forward before sumptuously popping the ball into the arms of JJ Hanrahan, who dotted down to mark his first Munster appearance since the 2015 Grand Final with a try, Keatley converting.
With just under 12 minutes to go, Hanrahan and Murray were involved as the hosts went on the offensive down the Blues' left flank, with Robin Copeland, making his first start of the season, crossing against his former side to hand Munster a bonus point, Keatley converting.
The hosts finished with a flourish as Murray and Keatley combined to tee up Hanrahan for his second try of the game.
For Munster: 39
Tries:Murray, Ryan, Hanrahan 2, Copeland
Cons: Keatley 4
Pens: Keatley 2
For Cardiff Blues:
Pens: Evans 3
Yellow card: Taufa'ao Filise (Cardiff Blues, 47)
Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Alex Wootton 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Christiaan Stander, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Peter O'Mahony (captain), 5 Billy Holland, 4 Robin Copeland, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Liam O'Connor, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Sean McCarthy, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Chris Farrell.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhun Williams, 14 Blaine Scully (captain), 13 Jack Roberts, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Tom James, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 James Down, 4 George Earle, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Brad Thyer.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Macauley Cook, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Matthew Morgan.
Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Seán Gallagher (Ireland), Gary Conway (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)