Joey Carbery returned to action for the first time in 13 months as Munster overhauled a first half deficit to beat Cardiff Blues in Cardiff Arms Park this evening.

The 25-year-old, who hadn't played since January 2020, was introduced for starting out-half JJ Hanrahan in the second half, capping his return with a late conversion from tight to the right sideline to deny the hosts a losing bonus point. 

The Conference B table toppers trailed for much of the game, requiring a second half surge to overcome the Blues, spoiling their long-awaited return to the spiritual home of rugby in the Welsh capital.

MATCH DETAILS

The Blues have not been able to play at their home ground for over a year due it to being used as part of a coronavirus hospital at the adjoining Principality Stadium and have been forced to host matches at Rodney Parade and the Cardiff  City Stadium.

Jean Kleyn claims possession at the lineout


Munster dominated the first 10 minutes, so it was against the run of play when the hosts took the lead.

A burst from Mason Grady got the Blues moving forward and when they entered the opposition 22, a well-timed pass from Thomas sent Seb Davies through a gap in the defence to score.

Minutes later, Davies picked up a yellow card for a dangerous entry into a ruck, but the only score in the lock's absence was a penalty from Hanrahan.

Despite Davies' return, the visitors continued to have the lion's share of possession and territory, but Cardiff's defence held firm, so the only further scores before half-time were an exchange of penalties from Thomas and Hanrahan.

Three minutes after the restart, Munster had the chance to take the lead for the first time, but Hanrahan's angled kick from 45 metres rebounded back off the crossbar.

From a similar range, Thomas was on target for his second successful penalty before Munster finally got their reward for their dominance when Kleyn crashed over from close range following a succession of forward drives.

The heaving mass of humanity tumble over the try line with Scannell touching down


Hanrahan converted before Thomas missed with two penalties to leave Munster with a two-point lead going into the final quarter.

Alongside Carbery, Munster also introduced Billy Holland, who took his tally for the province to 241 games and in so doing moved into second place in their all-time appearance chart ahead of Ronan O'Gara.

With two minutes remaining, Munster sealed the victory when a fierce line-out drive proved unstoppable, ending with hooker Niall Scannell grounding the ball. 

And then Carbery would enjoy the final act, nailing his touchline conversion to deprive the Blues of the bonus point.