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Ospreys 18 Munster 20

By Ospreys Rugby | 13/09/2015

The Ospreys had to settle for a losing bonus point at the Liberty Stadium as Munster claimed victory with the last kick-of the match to deny their hosts a deserved first win of the season.

Six penalties from Sam Davies had put his team into pole position, leading by five points going into the last two minutes, only for a CJ Stander try, converted by Ian Keatley to snatch the win away from the Ospreys in dramatic fashion.

Before kick-off the two teams came together to honour the late Jerry Collins, Ospreys skipper Lloyd Ashley and Munster’s former All Black, Francis Saili, laying a floral tribute prior to an impeccably observed minute’s silence.

After a low-key opening, supporters marked the sixth minute with their own tribute to JC, a minute’s applause to mark his old jersey number, and it was at that point that the hosts launched their first real pressure after stealing a Munster throw inside their own 22.

They pounded the line with a series of pick and go’s without finding a way through but, after a long offside advantage, it was Davies who opened the scoring with a simple penalty.

Within three minutes Munster were level, an Osprey hand in the ruck allowing Tyler Bleyendaal to even things up from a central position 30m out.

The Ospreys then spurned the chance to take a simple three points when, following a great break down the middle by Brendon Leonard, Munster were pinged for not rolling away. Davies spotted Hanno Dirksen on his own out on the right wing and sent over a cross kick looking for him, only to find the hands of Munster’s Stephen Fitzgerald behind his own line.

It was the home team who were probably shading it as the clock moved into the second quarter, without really making the most of their possession, the whistle of referee Dudley Phillips frustrating them on more than one occasion.

Despite that, it was Munster who almost took the lead, the Ospreys going to sleep behind a ruck close to their 22, allowing Cathal Sheridan to spot his winger Fitzgerald up against Sam Parry. He sent the ball across to the corner, only for the bounce to beat the Munsterman as he looked to ground, the TMO confirming a knock-on.

The visitors did take the lead just past the half hour mark though, Bleyendaal making no mistake with his boot from 40m out after Ashley was caught offside.

The Munster 10 was a touch fortunate from the restart, his clearing kick charged down by Dirksen, who would have won the footrace to the ball only to see it bounce out of play behind the visitors line.

A great break by the Ospreys, with Joe Bearman, wearing a numberless jersey in tribute to Collins, bursting through the tackle and Parry carrying well into the Munster 22, ended up in a penalty to the home team after Dave Kilcoyne went off his feet at the ruck and Davies made no mistake, leveling it at 6-6.

Some patient play around halfway from the home team was then rewarded with another penalty, for offside, and Davies made no mistake from close to half way with the final act of the first half, sending his team in at the break three points to the good.

HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 9 MUNSTER 6

Davies began the second half as he ended the first, splitting the posts to double the Ospreys lead after Mark Chisholm was spotted coming in from the side.

Munster were then handed an opportunity after the Ospreys struggled with untidy ball at the lineout on their own 22, the penalty going against them for going to ground. Instead of taking the points they went to the corner, where their maul was halted short by the Ospreys pack.

They went twice for the line, sucking in defenders before Bleyendaal again spotted Fitzgerald on his own in acres of space on the opposite wing and sent across an inch perfect cross kick for the simplest of scores.

The conversion was good and Munster led by a point with 54 minutes gone.

A great kick chase from the Ospreys after Davies has put the ball up in the corner resulted in a penalty decision in their favour, Robin Copeland holding on after being sacked by three players inside his own 22. Davies duly slotted over his fifth successful penalty to reinstate the Ospreys’ lead.

A huge, controlled, eight man effort then saw the Ospreys marching their opponents backwards at a rate of knots  at the scrum, and when the penalty went their way Davies was again successful, taking the score to 18-13 with 10 to play.

Munster threw everything, including the proverbial kitchen sink, in the closing stages and, somewhat inevitably, found themselves awarded a kickable penalty with just two minutes to go.

Just as inevitably they went to the corner, in an attempt to rumble over from close range. The Ospreys pack held firm, halting the Munster progress, but the pressure was relentless, pick and drive followed by pick and drive as they crabbed across field.

Eventually, it was Stander who stretched over to score the try that leveled things, and replacement fly half Keatley made no mistake with the conversion to break Ospreys hearts.

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