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Munster come from behind to defeat stubborn Blues

Munster Rugby overcame a stubborn Cardiff Blues as they came from behind for a battling victory at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park.

Tries from Francis Saili and replacement Conor Oliver helped Rassie Erasmus’s side to victory, despite trailing for much of the match.

Aled Summerhill crossed for the hosts, but the Irish side had too much for a Cardiff side decimated by injury and absentees.

Cardiff were eighth in the Guinness PRO12 table at start of play, but did have some momentum after an 18-17 victory in Edinburgh last time out, and a convincing victory over Benetton Treviso before that.

Munster, meanwhile, were third behind Leinster and Ospreys, and were seeking to bounce back after having their impressive run of form halted by Scarlets at Thomond Park last week.

Steve Shingler opened the scoring for Cardiff after a scrappy opening 20 minutes when he landed a 40-metre penalty.

However, their advantage was short-lived as Rory Scannell returned the favour just two minutes later, Scannell assuming kicking duty after Ian Keatley, who looked impressive on his return to the side, was forced off the field with injury.

Shingler restored the Blues’ lead with another penalty three minutes before half-time after Josh Navidi had been penalised at a ruck.

The Blues started the second half brightly, and were rewarded when wing Summerhill sprinted 70 metres for an intercept try to seize the initiative for the hosts, Shingler adding the extras.

However, once again, the visitors responded almost instantly with a try of their own when replacement centre Francis Saili charged through the Blues defence to cross, Scannell converting.

Munster kept up the pressure on their Welsh hosts, and thought they had their noses in front through Andrew Conway, but a TMO replay showed he had not grounded the ball.

Scannell kicked a close-range penalty to level proceedings 13 minutes from time, the momentum firmly with the visitors, who barely got out of their own half in the second period.

And despite some heroic Cardiff defending, Scannell kicked a drop goal with four minutes left as the Munstermen took a 16-13 lead.

With the home side forced to commit men forward in search of a reply, Oliver raced clear from 30 metres from the breakdown to touch down unchallenged, Scannell adding the extras.

Munster are up to second, while Cardiff stay eighth, their top-six hopes having been dented.

Guinness PRO12 Final 2017, 27th May, Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
Ticket Information: Fans can still avail of an exclusive number of €35 tickets. Book via www.ticketmaster.ie. Further information: www.pro12rugby.com/final

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