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Munster on course for final eight

Monday 9th October 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 09/10/2006 11:53

- 09/10/2006 11:53

These Magners League rival lock horns for the fourth time in Heineken Cup history in Round 3 – but it is the first time they have faced each other in this competition for nearly ten years.

On Saturday, 27 September 1997 Cardiff beat Munster 37-22, that was two weeks after the Welsh team beat them 43-23 at home, and a year after they thrashed the Irish team 48-18.

Click here to listen to Blues flanker Martyn Williams previewing the match

But that is all ancient history. Munster’s most recent visit to Cardiff in the Heineken Cup saw them lift the trophy to become champions of Europe.

And they have been in awesome form this season – defeating Leicester Tigers 21-19 in Round 1 and Bourgoin 41-23 in Round 2.

The Blues – for their part – put up an admirable show before going down to the Tigers in Round 2 at the Millennium Stadium. They were hoping for a second win on the bounce after beating Bourgoin in Round 1.

A loss here could spell the end of their Heineken Cup hopes, where as a win for Munster would put one foot in the quarter-finals.

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Munster on course for final eight

Monday 9th October 2006

12:00 am (GMT)

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- 09/10/2006 11:53

- 09/10/2006 11:53

Munster broke Cardiff hearts and wrote themselves into Heineken Cup history by becoming the first side to record six-straight away wins.

The reigning champions passed Leicester’s record of five wins on the road and are riding high at the top of Pool Four with three wins, thanks to victory at Leicester and now Cardiff.

In contrast, the Blues now face an up-hill battle for Saturday’s return-leg in Limerick having now twice been beaten at home in the cup.

A first-half try by No 8 Denis Leamy and O’Gara’s faultless kicking saw Munster home as the guests ground out a win in the Arms Park mud.

British Lion O’Gara landed five penalties and a conversion for a 17-point personal haul that took him up to 803 Heineken Cup points –
more than 150 head of his nearest rival.

But the Blues made a bright start when Ben Blair landed two early penalties, the second came when Munster prop Fredericio Pucciariello was shown the yellow card for punching as early as the 10th minute.

But Cardiff failed to make the numeric advantage count as Blair went wide with a penalty attempt before O’Gara landed his first kick to make it 6-3 after 20 minutes.

Martyn Williams was shown a yellow card for a high tackle as the Blues found themselves a man down and Munster made Cardiff pay with Pucciariello, back from the sin bin, brought down short of the line.

And the Irish province grabbed their first try when Leamy was driven over the line by his pack and managed to touch down, despite landing on his back.

O’Gara put the conversion straight between the posts and Munster were starting to turn the screw at 10-6.

Blues flanker Scott Morgan compounded his side’s frustration after he barged O’Connell out of the line-out and O’Gara landed the resulting penalty on half-time to make it 13-6 at half-time.

The home side dug deep in the second-half as Blair landed two penalties to close the scores to 13-12 going into the final quarter.

But O’Gara took over with three penalties in the last 20 minutes to see his side home and Cardiff face the near-impossible task of winning at Thomond Park – where Munster have never lost a Heineken Cup match.

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