Munster 13 Ospreys 17

The Ospreys maintained their winning start to the season with a hard fought win over Munster at Thomond Park on Saturday night.

The victory stretches the Ospreys unbeaten record to six wins from six games in the RaboDirect PRO12 before the competition takes a three week break, and in doing so, they ended the hosts 18-month unbeaten home record which goes back to April 2010, when ironically it was the Ospreys who defeated Munster en route to that years league title.

It was a tough evening in Limerick, and the Ospreys trailed for just about two-thirds of the game, but they showed plenty of spirit and character to secure an important win that leaves the Ospreys six points ahead of Munster and Leinster in the PRO12 table with an unblemished record which also sees them the highest points scorers in the competition so far by some distance.

Dan Biggar once again weighed in with his boot, kicking 12 points that takes the 21-year old fly-half to 788 points for the Ospreys, just eight behind James Hooks record tally of 796, while Rhys Webbs third try of the season proved crucial.

Munster got the action underway at an uncharacteristically low-key Thomond Park, and they got off to a dream start when the Ospreys handed them a try with just two minutes on the clock.

Doug Howletts hopeful punt into the Ospreys 22 seemed straightforward enough, and Hanno Dirksen appeared to have plenty of time to collect and clear, but centre Danny Barnes, in pursuit of Howletts kick, was able to charge down the attempted clearance, the ball falling kindly for him to ground under the posts, Ian Keatley converting.

The Ospreys responded positively, and a powerful drive from the Ospreys scrum at a Munster put-in resulted in a penalty in front of the posts, Biggar making no mistake.

The roles were reversed in the 14th minute with Munster awarded a penalty at the setpiece, Keatley successful from the 10m line to take his teams lead back up to seven points, before Ospreys hands in the ruck allowed Keatley the opportunity to keep the scoreboard ticking over in Munsters favour at the end of the first quarter. However, his effort from 10m closer to the sticks struck the left hand post.

A testing box-kick from Webb then put the Munster defence under pressure, Howlett failing to collect cleanly as Richard Fussell contested the high ball, and when the bounce fell kindly to Biggar he found his progress to the line illegally halted by Niall Ronan, resulting in an Ospreys penalty. Like Keatley before him though, Biggar could only strike the upright.

Good work from the Ospreys then saw Webb, Joe Bearman and Jonathan Thomas all carrying well, before Biggar tried to squeeze through a gap in the Munster defence, being stopped just a metre short. A series of scrums close to the Munster line followed, with the Ospreys dominant, but they were unable to make the most of their set-piece advantage as Munster worked hard to protect their line.

It was a scrappy contest with both teams making a number of unforced errors, but the second quarter was being played almost exclusively in Munster territory, which would have pleased the Ospreys coaches even if the scoreboard failed to reflect that.

With half-time approaching Munster were again penalised at the scrum, and after referee James Jones issued a final warning to the hosts, Biggar was able to put his kick straight through the middle to bring the first forty to a close.


The first scrum of the second half saw another Ospreys shove resulting in the set-piece going down again, and true to his word, Mr Jones pulled out his yellow card to send Stephen Archer to the bin, Biggar rubbing salt into Munster wounds with his third successful kick of the night to bring his team back to within a point.

A Duncan Williams break then opened up the Ospreys defence, Denis Fogarty offering good support as Munster edged close to the Ospreys line.

The visitors were able to keep them out, at the expense of a penalty, and there was another blow when the referees attention was drawn to a touch judges flag.

Following consultation between the officials, Ospreys skipper Justin Tipuric was sent to join Archer on the sidelines for a dangerous tackle. However, there was some respite for the Ospreys as once again Keatleys penalty came back off the upright.

Buoyed by the inroads made in their last attack, and now back up to 15 following Archers return, Munster looked to extend their lead. Peter OMahoney picked and went from the base of a scrum, before Wian Du Preez was held up just a metre short.

Munster recycled, looking to take advantage of their extra man, but as they looked to work it wide, Barry Davies read Mick ODriscolls attempted pass perfectly to intercept two metres from his own line, before racing over halfway and beyond Munsters 10m line where he was able to offload to Richard Fussell. As Munsters defence desperately attempted to get back, Webb was in support to receive the ball on the 22 and race over. Although Biggar was off-target with the conversion attempt, the Ospreys were ahead for the first time.

As things started to heat up, a disagreement between the front rows led to both captains being spoken to about team discipline, before a second tete-a-tete following an Ospreys offence at the scrum saw James Jones marching the Ospreys back 10m, taking it into kicking range for Keatley who duly obliged to bring Munster back to within a point as the contest moved into the last twenty minutes.

The night was turning into the tale of the woodwork, Biggar striking the post with a drop goal attempt after the Ospreys had worked the ball upfield to within kickable territory after being awarded a free-kick at the scum.

Davies then tried his luck with a long-range drop goal effort as the Ospreys looked to pull away from Munster, but although his effort had the distance it lacked direction.

It was a tight, nervy affair with nothing in it as the clock ticked past 70, with good discipline vital. Munster looked to wrestle the lead back from the Ospreys, wave after wave of red shirts pressing, and the Ospreys were grateful to see Howletts dink to the corner bounce out of play in the corner as Barnes looked to chase.

It was an Ospreys lineout, but Munster stole it at the front from Richard Hibbards throw. They looked to force their way over the line, but somehow the visitors were able to resist, winning turnover ball that allowed Biggar to clear to halfway from behind his own posts.

With just a minute left on the clock, another penalty to the Ospreys in the scrum gave Biggar the chance to seal the game and he took the full 60 seconds available to him before slotting over his fourth successful penalty of the night to secure the win with the final kick of the game, leaving the Ospreys sitting pretty in first place as their attention switches to the LV= Cup for the next two weekends.