On the day he became an Irish citizen, CJ Stander’s final act as a Munster player at Thomond Park was a successful Captain’s Challenge that kept his chances of picking up a trophy alive.
His compatriot Keynan Knox scored the try to edge a rollercoaster affair, but Cardiff staged a grand finale and earned a penalty under the home side’s posts after a 23-phase epic deep into injury-time.
Stander stepped in and used his challenge, pointing out that Cardiff Blues’ scrum-half Lloyd Williams had kicked the ball back into a ruck two phases earlier. When Andrew Brace reviewed the footage, he gave Munster the free-kick they needed to close the game out.
It was a damp squib ending to a cracker of a game, but the bonus-point win means Munster are top of the Rainbow Cup Northern Conference this morning ahead of Benetton’s clash with Connacht.
Cardiff led after three minutes. A lovely break from centre Willis Halaholo created the opening for Tomos Williams to score.
Jarrod Evans converted, then extended his side’s lead to 10-0.
Munster needed a big play to get into the game and James Cronin came up with a key turnover, before a combination of Niall Scannell and Jean Kleyn forced a ruck penalty.
Joey Carbery kicked to the corner and Munster’s pack mauled over, with help from both centres, for the Cork hooker to score.
Soon after, they put Damien de Allende in the lineout and he held onto the pass and carried close to the line before Craig Casey found Fineen Wycherley who crashed over.
Munster’s maul was dominant and Scannell soon peeled off the back to score his second try.
Carbery nailed his third conversion and Munster led by 11 at the break.
Cardiff struck from a midfield ruck to release Seb Davies out left and the second-row found Williams, who raced home for his second try.
Evans’ conversion narrowed the gap, but Carbery extended it after Conway brilliantly harried Evans into conceding a penalty.
The Blues’ Josh Turnbull found a gap and found Lloyd Williams on his shoulder to score.
Evans levelled with the conversion, before adding a penalty.
But Gavin Coombes came up with the goods for Munster, winning a critical turnover that led to Knox powering over from close range. Carbery converted, before Stander’s stand.