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Munster's Lifeimi Mafi and Ben Blair of Cardiff Blues
Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Munster Have To Settle For Losing Bonus Point
3 March 2007, 10:46 am
By Pat Geraghty
Munster had to settle for a losing bonus point after they went down 19-12 to Cardiff Blues at a packed Musgrave Park.
But what will be just as disappointing and worrying for them was the injuries sustained by props Darragh Hurley and Federico Pucciariello who were both forced to withdraw through injury, Pucciariello with what looks like a groin strain and Hurley with a damaged shoulder. In addition Shaun Payne did not appear for the second half having sustained a hand injury in the opening half.

And it was their lacklustre first half performance that ultimately cost Munster this game. They trailed 13-0 at half time but then produced a improved second half display that might have yielded more than the losing bonus. After Eoghan Hickey had reduced the deficit with 42nd minute penalty Ben Blair replied to keep Cardiff thirteen points clear. Hickey landed a further penalty as Munster enjoyed their best period. Then in the 63rd minute Tomas O'Leary blocked an attempted clearance from Nicky Robinson, gathered the loose ball but stumbled with the line at his mercy.

Cardiff scrambled back in defence but Munster retained possession and after Lifiemi Mafi had made headway Munster had numbers aplenty on the left but Robinson's brother Jamie blatantly came in to spoil possession. That action earned him a yellow card and a penalty to Hickey. It might just have easily merited a penalty try.

Blair continued in faultless fashion with a penalty for a 19-9 lead but in injury time Hickey, who had an impressive game, knocked over a pressure kick to earn his side a bonus point.

Munster: C Cullen; S Payne (L Mafi ht), B Murphy, T Halstead, J Kelly capt; E Hickey, T O'Leary; D Hurley (T Buckley 52 mins), F Sheahan (D Fogarty 77 min) , F Pucciariello (M Melbourne 68 min); C Wyatt (D Ryan 45 min), M O'Driscoll; A Quinlan, T McGann, J O'Sullivan.

Cardiff Blues: B Blair; T James, J Robinson, M Stcherbina, C Czekaj; N Robinson, M Phillips; T Filise, R Thomas, G Powell, D Jones, R Sidoli, S Morgan, X Rush (capt), R Shellard.

Replacements: S Roberts, G Williams, B White, M Lewis, W Evans, M Luveitasau, N Macleod.

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