Thomond Park Holds No Fears
14th December 2006 By Munster Rugby
Cardiff Blues coach Dai Young has opted for Nick MacLeod at out-half, in place of Nick Robinson who started in the Arms Park, for the return game in a Thomond Park that according to the Blues coach holds no fears for his side.
Prop Geithin Jenkins and lock James Goode will miss the Heineken Cup return game against Munster at Thomond Park, Jenkins with a calf strain will be replaced by John Yapp while Bradley Davies takes over from Goode who has an ankle injury. Elsewhere Nick MacLeod starts instead of Nick Robinson and Tom Shanklin comes in off the wing to partner Jamie Robinson in the centre.
And coach Dai Young is not being the slightest bit disrespectful when he says the prospect of the visit to Thomond Park holds no fears for his side. Young, who roomed with Ronan O’Gara on the 2001 Lions tour, was extremely gracious in the wake of Munster’s victory last weekend despite his obvious and understandable disappointment, and this time around gives a pointer to the difficult task Munster face.
“They (Munster) are comfortable at home. But there is no pressure on us because no-one is giving us a chance. We want to go there and express ourselves because I don’t think we really did that last weekend.”
And therein lies the warning for Munster. Last weekend at the Arms Park, Cardiff never looked certain what type of game they wanted to play outside 10. And while Nick Robinson probably kicked too much in the second half, he most certainly did not deserve the boos that greeted his exit from the field towards the end of the game.
It might also be recalled that Mike Phillips busted Munster’s fringe defence very early on and the defending champions were fortunate not to concede a try and Ben Blair missed two kicks he would normally convert blindfolded. And if. And only for.
The joy of the away win however – and it was totally deserved – might have masked how little separates these sides. It was nip ‘n tuck throughout and there was just one score separating the sides until O’Gara landed a 77th minute penalty to put 10 points between the sides.
Up until then the Munster players themselves will concede the outcome was undecided.
The Blues will feel they owe themselves something. And they are not a pretty-boy side who preen and prattle. They are Munster-like in their passion and their attitude.
This one one will go right down to the wire.
Cardiff Blues: Ben Blair; Tom James, Jamie Robinson, Tom Shanklin, Chris Czekaj; Nick Macleod, Mike Phillips; John Yapp, T Rhys Thomas, Taufaao Filise; Bradley Davies, Deiniol Jones; Scott Morgan, Martyn Williams, Xavier Rush capt.
Replacements: Gary Powell, Gareth Williams, Mark Lewis, Ben White, Wayne Evans, Nick Robinson, Marc Stcherbina