Cardiff Blues 18-24 Munster, RaboDirect PRO12
O'Donnell double propels Munster to away win
November 2, 2012
Former Blues centre Casey Laulala grabbed the match-winning try for Munster at the Arms Park
© Getty Images
Munster kept the pressure on the RaboDirect PRO12 leaders with a 24-18 victory over Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park on Friday night - but it took a last-minute try from former Blues centre Casey Laulala to deny the hosts.
The shattered home side had to settle for a losing bonus point after a performance which will have restored a lot of pride after their recent travails. Their last two meetings with Irish provinces had seen them concede a total of 15 tries and they entered this clash with some trepidation, especially after losing skipper Andries Pretorius, who had not recovered from a rib injury sustained against Leinster, along with the eight men in Poland with the Wales team. Munster, of course, were also weakened by international calls, although Ireland released fly-half Ronan O'Gara in search of some game time.
Following last weekend's 59-22 thrashing in Dublin, the Blues promised a fast start against Munster and although Jason Tovey missed a touchline penalty in the second minute, he was spot-on when given a second chance. But the Irish hit back immediately, spreading the ball across field with both centres featuring before number eight Tommy O'Donnell trotted over on the left for the first of his two tries, with O'Gara converting.
The former British Lion saw a yellow card minutes later, however, when he illegally prevented the Blues capitalising on a breakaway by Robin Copeland. But Munster survived their spell with 14 men after Cardiff butchered an overlap following a kick-and-chase by fullback Dan Fish.
O'Gara rubbed it in with a simple penalty to extend the visitors' lead before the break, but the Blues were level six minutes into the second period. Ceri Sweeney replaced the ineffectual Tovey at fly-half and, with his first touch, fed centre Dafydd Hewitt, who burst through to touch down. Sweeney converted.
Midway through the half Sweeney slotted over a straightforward penalty, but the home side's lead was short-lived as O'Donnell smashed through weak tackling to score under the posts, with O'Gara once again adding the extras. But O'Gara's long-time Ireland partner, Peter Springer, on as a substitute, had a kick charged down at the base of a scrum and opposite number Lewis Jones darted clear to score although Sweeney's kick drifted wide.
Just as the Blues fans were preparing to celebrate a much needed victory, however, Laulala evaded clutching hands to reach the line and O'Gara hammered the final nail in the coffin.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
Toulon's Heineken Cup final victory over Clermont Auvergne may have ended a long title drought for the Top 14 club but two of their players are no strangers to success
We bring you our pick of the best pictures from around the world in the last seven days with the battle for Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup glory taking centre stage
"If you listen carefully you should be able to hear them mining the granite for the statue of a certain Jonny Wilkinson" Graham Jenkins reports from the Heineken Cup Final
Quade Cooper's defence is better than it was 12 months ago and Robbie Deans has erred in omitting him from the core Wallabies squad to play the Lions, Greg Growden writes