Munster led 12-8 with a try from winger Kieran Lewis and held that lead until the 70th minute, but after late tries from Gary Powell and Ceri Sweeney Munster were denied the losing bonus point in the Arms Park as Cardiff won 20-12.
Munster fell to their second successive defeat since they were crowned Magners League champions after a late show by Cardiff at the Arms Park yesterday.
Denis Leamy and Kieran Lewis scored tries in either half but that was not enough to save Munster’s season from sliding to a wholly unsatisfactory climax.
Leamy and Barry Murphy had tries ruled out in the second half before Lewis went over to put Munster 12-8 ahead, before tries by Gary Powell and a late interception score by Ceri Sweeney, wrapped up Cardiff’s victory and secured qualification for next season’s Heineken Cup. Cardiff’s joy was tempered by injury concerns to Lions Leigh Halfpenny and Jamie Roberts. The teams were level until the final kick handed Cardiff an 8-5 interval lead.
Nick Williams was shown the yellow card for his heavy challenge, off the ball, on Roberts and Cardiff used the extra man to carve open space for Tom James to score on 22 minutes. Leamy started and finished a classic counterattack after Donncha O’Callaghan twice went close before Cardiff outhalf Nick Robinson struck before half-time.
Munster dominated after the break and O’Callaghan and Denis Hurley combined for Lewis to score but the visitors ran out of gas as Cardiff struck late.
Scorers: Cardiff Blues: Tries: T James, G. Powell, C Sweeney. Con: N. Robinson. Pen: N. Robinson. Munster: Tries: D Leamy, K Lewis. Cons: J Manning.
CARDIFF BLUES: Czekaj, Mustoe, J Robinson, J Roberts, James N. Robinson, Allinson, Yapp, G Williams, G Powell, Davies, Morgan, Warburton, M Williams, A Powell. Replacements: Sweeney for J. Roberts (46 mins), T. Thomas for G. Williams (70 mins), D Jones for Morgan (56 mins), White for A Powell (70 mins).
MUNSTER: D Hurley, Lewis, Murphy, Earls, Dowling, Manning, Stringer, Pucciariello, Fogarty, Hayes, O’Callaghan, O’Driscoll, N Williams, Ronan, Leamy. Replacements: Burke for Manning (78 mins), Buckley for Pucciariello (41 mins), Essex for Fogarty (76 mins), Foley for N. Williams (77 mins). Attendance: 7,428.
Referee: Peter Allan (SRFU).
© Irish Times