Munster cement top spot
March 25, 2011
Fly-half Ronan O'Gara slotted three penalties and a conversion to steer Munster to their 15th win of the Magners League season
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Munster strengthened their grip at the top of the Magners League table with a 16-15 over Cardiff Blues on Friday night.
Fly-half Ronan O'Gara, who had a mixed night with the boot, landed the vital penalty midway through the second half to secure Munster's first win on Welsh soil in six visits and only Cardiff's second home defeat in the league all season.
Munster, though, were well worth their win over a Blues side who never really got going but did rally when Scotland fly-half Dan Parks put them ahead with a trademark drop goal before O'Gara, who had missed four earlier penalties, had his say. David Young, the Blues coach, knows this defeat keeps his side in fifth place as the race for the Magners League Grand Final hots up and the side from the Welsh capital have a mountain to climb as most of their remaining games are away from home.
Munster, who have led the Magners League for most of this season, will be delighted with this win as they bid to get a home draw in the play-off semi-finals at the end of May. Ospreys, Leinster, Scarlets and even Ulster will know the Munstermen are the side to avoid as the race for the Grand Final hots up.
Munster went in 13-12 ahead at the break, with Blues prop John Yapp and his replacement Sam Hobbs both sin-binned for throwing a punch and they were joined by Munster hooker Damien Varley, in an otherwise pretty tame first-half.
Back rower James Coughlan had given Munster a 7-3 lead midway through the half after a superb counter-attack by Ireland full-back Keith Earls to give the visitors a lead they would never surrender in the first 40 minutes of a typical top of the table clash.
Cardiff had the boot of wing Leigh Halfpenny to thank for still being in the game at the break, with the Wales star landing four penalties to keep them only a point behind. The Blues called for the cavalry of Wales stars Jamie Roberts and Bradley Davies but it was replacement fly-half Parks' drop goal which looked to have given them an unlikely victory before O'Gara landed the vital penalty.
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