Schubert hits the right note for Cardiff

Cardiff Blues 30 - Munster 20
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The Independent Online

Wales and Ireland returned to domestic duties as Cardiff Blues inflicted an early psychological blow for their countrymen with a surprise 30-20 victory over Munster.

Wales and Ireland returned to domestic duties as Cardiff Blues inflicted an early psychological blow for their countrymen with a surprise 30-20 victory over Munster.

In two weeks' time the two nations will meet at the Millennium Stadium for what both hope will deliver a moment of history for the winner. Indeed, amid the excitement of their respective Grand Slam campaigns it has been easy to forget matters in the Celtic League.

Yesterday, matters came to a head for two of the historical giants from either side of the Irish Sea. Munster saw their title bid effectively finished with a defeat that leaves them eight points behind Neath-Swansea Ospreys, who face Leinster today.

A miserable evening was compounded by a shoulder injury to the ex-All Black Christian Cullen that threatens to rule him out of Munster's Heineken Cup quarter- final against Biarritz in three weeks, and perhaps the rest of the season.

Cardiff, however, were left to rejoice in a desperately needed win. A gutsy victory, courtesy of two tries from their American No 8 Kort Schubert and one from Nicky Robinson, offers them hope of still catching Llanelli for the third and final Welsh spot in next season's Heineken Cup.

Of further encouragement for the Wales coach, Mike Ruddock, will have been the return of the Cardiff outside-half Nicky Robinson in his first start of the season following a debilitating virus.

Robinson took just 20 minutes to show why he was originally seen as the successor for both club and country to Iestyn Harris before the rise of Gavin Henson. The 23-year-old, who played alongside Henson for the Grand Slam-winning Wales Under-21 side two years ago, sweetly struck a drop goal before shimmying over from 10 yards out to open an early 10-3 lead.

Munster were at sixes and sevens throughout the first half, and fell further behind when their scrum-half Mike Pendergast saw his clearance blocked by Schubert, who pounced on the wildly bouncing ball for Cardiff's second.

Matters worsened for the visitors with the loss of Cullen before temporarily improving with a typical forward effort that saw Marcus Horan dive over from close range.

However, Schubert caught the Munster line-out sleeping when he went over from a long throw before Lee Thomas sealed the win with a late penalty.

Cardiff Blues: N MacLeod; D Dewdney, T Davies, L Thomas, C Morgan; N Robinson (J Vaughton, 80), R Powell; M Jones (N Llewellyn, 79), G Williams (R Thomas, 80), B Evans, C Quinnell (capt), D Jones, M Molitika, K Schubert, R Sowden-Taylor.

Munster: C Cullen (P Devlin, 37); J Kelly (P Devlin, 18-20), S Payne, R Henderson (J Holland, 57), A Horgan; P Burke, M Pendergast (E Reddan, 46); M Horan, F Sheahan (capt), G McIlwham, T Bowman (A Quinlan, h-t), T Hogan, J Williams, S Keogh, D Wallace.

Referee: M Hall (Ireland).

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