An impressive performance from the Ospreys was rewarded with a memorable win that puts the region well and truly back into the play-off mix with five games to go.
Sam Davies kicked 21 points while Dan Baker rounded off a well worked move to score the Ospreys’ only try to inspire a deserved win at the Liberty Stadium.
After being led out by skipper, Justin Tipuric, and Ryan Bevington, both making their 100th appearance for the team, the Ospreys made a rip-roaring start, enjoying more than 20 phases of play inside the Munster 22 as they looked to craft an early try. However, it was the boot of Davies that eventually got the scoreboard moving with a straightforward penalty from the left in the fifth minute.
The game then fell into a pattern of Ospreys pressing, Munster clearing their lines, and the hosts then working their way back upfield without threatening their opponents line.
The pressure did lead to a second Ospreys penalty just past the midway point of the half, Donncha O’Callaghan unable to stop himself coming in from the side as the ball squirmed out of the back of a ruck on the 22. Davies made no mistake, doubling the lead with 21 minutes gone.
Munster’s response saw them enjoying their best spell of the game, the Irish forwards looking to power their way towards the Ospreys line, but as had been the case at the other end, never really looking like making the break through.
The visitors then found themselves playing the last 10 minutes of the half a man short after Dave O’Callaghan was sent to the bin for a high tackle on Dan Evans, and the Ospreys took full advantage of the extra man to score the first try of the match within 90 seconds.
It was a well worked opening, the Ospreys patiently moving the ball through the hands off the lineout, going the full width of the pitch and back again, before Davies spotted the overlap on the right and floated a long miss pass for Baker who had a simple stroll over to score. Davies failed with the conversion, pushing wide across the posts to the left.
Great work on the ground from Scott Otten to win turnover ball then put his team on the front foot again, and a penalty for offside allowed Davies to take the score to 14-0.
It was 17-0 a minute or so later, Davies with a coolly taken drop goal from in front of the posts after a great break from Tipuric, supported ably by Bevington and Matavesi, had taken the hosts from deep inside their own half up to the opposition line.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 17 MUNSTER 0
Restored to 15, Munster began the second half on the offensive, and only an outstanding defensive effort to repel the visitors lineout drive kept the Ospreys line intact, the referee awarding a scrum to the home team once it became unplayable.
The game then became something of an arm wrestle as Munster looked to get a foothold in the game, enjoying greater possession without working any real opportunities, and the Ospreys defence content to suck up pressure, allowing Davies and Matavesi to clear the lines where necessary.
As the clock reached the hour mark the Ospreys were able to take a firm grip on events, and a great scrum on the right was rewarded with a penalty, allowing Davies to take his team 20 points clear with as many minutes remaining on the clock.
When the visitors were getting the chance to make inroads, all too often they found themselves getting over excited, passes going astray and the ball going to ground too often as aggressive defence from the Ospreys meant they had little time in key areas.
However, they made no mistake after the Ospreys were penalised on their right for an offence at the ruck, allowing Munster to go to the corner from where they rumbled over the line, replacement Donnacha Ryan grounding.
They failed to add the extras, Ian Keatley’s woeful kick never getting higher than six feet off the ground, leaving the Ospreys leading by 15 with eight minutes remaining.
The Ospreys hit straight back, another huge scrum giving Davies a shot at goal and he sliced the posts to take the score to 23-5.
There were just five minutes left but, to their credit, Munster refused to lie down and continued pressing forward in search of a losing bonus point. Their second try duly came with 78 minutes gone, Keith Earls going over in the corner, Keatley adding the extras. The Ospreys had the final say, fittingly through the boot of Davies, who put over his sixth successful penalty of the night in the final minute to round off a good day for the region.