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Celtic League – Munster Move Five Points Clear.

6th November 2005 By Munster Rugby

Celtic League – Munster Move Five Points Clear.

Fifteen points for Paul Burke and three from Jeremy Manning helped Munster to their first ever competitive win over Cardiff at the Arms Park on Friday night

Fifteen points for Paul Burke and three from Jeremy Manning helped Munster to their first ever competitive win over Cardiff at the Arms Park on Friday night. And with Ulster slipping up at home to Ospreys it means Munster have moved five points clear at the top of the Celtic League table.

The next game for Declan Kidney’s side is against Ulster in Musgrave Park on December 3rd, the week before the Heineken Cup resumes.

Afterwards, Cardiff’s Chief Executive Robert Norster described the game as ‘pretty dire’ and few would argue with that brief assessment. Following heavy rain, the pitch had a leaden energy sapping feel to it which perhaps accounted for the litany of errors by both sides. However, Munster adapted better to the conditions and were full value for their victory.

The sides were level, nine points apiece at the break and Burke edged them further ahead with two second half penalties. He was then replaced by Shaun Payne who went to his usual full-back position with Manning moving to out-half.

The defining period of the game was prompted by the sin-binning of Federico Pucciarriello in the 59th minute and the subsequent award of a penalty in front of the posts. They opted for touch and five-metre line-out but their throw was superbly snaffled by Mick O’Driscoll and 14 man Munster not only lifted the siege but kept the Blues at bay while Pucciariello was cooling his heels.

The Munster line was finally breached in the 70th minute by Cardiff’s Australian centre Marc Stcherbina and the conversion left just two points separating the sides. Referee Peter Allen played over seven minutes of injury time but to their enormous credit Munster dug deep, forced their way into the Blues’ 22 and defended their narrow lead in that section of the ground until the whistle finally sounded.

Munster: Jeremy Manning; John Kelly, Gary Connolly, Trevor Halstead, Anthon Pitout; Paul Burke ( Shaun Payne 56th min), Tomas O’Leary; Frank Roche, Jerry Flannery, Federico Pucciarriello; Trevor Hogan, Mick O’Driscoll; John O’Sullivan (Tony Buckley temp), David Wallace, Stephen Keogh capt.

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