The Ospreys put in a performance full of pride, passion and commitment to come from behind and secure a crucial win at Irish Independent Park to make it a perfect Valentine’s Day.
- Sam Davies scores 16 points and takes the Man of the Match award as the Ospreys secure a crucial PRO12 win
- 19-year old Owen Watkin grabs his first ever try in pro rugby
- It was the Ospreys' second win in five games in Cork, the first since February 2004, their first ever match at the venue
- Ospreys now just four points behind fifth placed Edinburgh who visit the Liberty on Friday night
Having twice trailed they had to do it the hard way but sixteen points from Sam Davies, including a lovely first half try, and a first ever try in professional rugby for 19-year old Owen Watkin, means the Ospreys remain firmly in contention for the Champions Cup next season, four points behind fifth placed Edinburgh who visit the Liberty on Friday night.
After a lively opening 10 minutes, played out between the 22s as both sides looked to move the ball whenever possible, the Ospreys were forced into an early change up front, Dmitri Arhip limping off to be replaced by Ma’afu Fia.
Within a minute Munster were handed the lead by the Ospreys, scrum half Duncan Williams reading his opposite number Brendon Leonard’s box kick at the back of a ruck on his 10m line, charging down the kick before winning the race to the ball, touching down for the try. Ian Keatley converted and Munster led 7-0.
Munster looked set to grab a second try when they worked their way up to the 22 through multiple phases before Ian Keatley spun it left towards Ronan O’Mahoney, the wing ready to collect and go for the line from just 5m out.
However, the pass was picked off by Tom Grabham who raced clear, over halfway, and for a moment it looked as though he was going all the way, Grabham, though, couldn’t outpace his opposite number, Darren Sweetnam, who got across to put in a try-saving tackle.
The Ospreys struck back in the 25th minute with a wonderful try, a 23 phase move launched deep inside their own half and featuring strong carries from numerous players including Ben John, Joe Bearman, JJ Engelbrecht, Sam Parry and Sam Underhill before, with a penalty advantage in their favour, they were finally able to get across the line. It was Davies with a lovely show and go to create the telling gap for him to glide through and score before adding the extras to level.
The scores were tied for less than 120 seconds though, Munster able to take full advantage of a lack of accuracy from the Ospreys, Davies attempting to keep the ball alive as he tried to run from out of his own 22. The ball went loose, Munster claimed possession and Francis Saili glided home from 30m, turning John inside out. Keatley’s conversion attempt struck the right hand post.
The response from the Ospreys was positive, Josh Matavesi and Engelbrecht combining well in midfield, the South African’s grubber beyond the Munster defence just too long for him to reclaim.
The Ospreys then had to defend doggedly as Munster looked for a third try, going through the pick and drives, and the penalty eventually went the way of the men in black. That allowed them to go up the other end and a penalty against Jack O’Donoghue for not rolling away allowed Davies to put over a long range-kick to bring his team back to within two points at the break.
HALF-TIME: MUNSTER 12 OSPREYS 10
As the rain lashed down at the start of the start of the second half it was all very scrappy, the Ospreys in particular guilty of conceding possession cheaply as they looked to keep the ball alive.
The next score went Munster’s way in the 52nd minute, Sweetnam running a good angle off the back of a ruck on the left, drifting through the defence before offloading to Robin Copeland, the former Blues back rower charging over from 10m out.
Keatley pushed his touchline conversion across the face of the posts and wide, meaning the Ospreys remained just a converted try behind with a little under half an hour remaining.
There was the welcome sight of Rhys Webb entering the action before the game restarted for his long awaited return to action following the serious foot injury sustained on pre-Rugby World Cup action for Wales.
An offside against Keatley at an Ospreys line-out allowed the visitors to chip away at the Munster lead, Davies with another three pointer three minutes later.
Buoyed by that the Ospreys then showed great patience to work the hard yards, inching their way upfield from in front of their own posts to win a penalty on the Munster 22.
Davies’ long range effort bounced back into play off the post, allowing Munster to clear, but the Ospreys came straight back at their opponents, Dan Evans making a great run at the heart of the Munster defence. It was Davies again in the thick of it, supplying the scoring pass for teenage centre Watkin, on for Matavesi, who powered over the line from close range for a crucial score.
Although Davies, kicking into the wind, was off target with his conversion attempt, the Ospreys led by a solitary point going into the final quarter.
Munster again picked up the tempo as they looked to wrestle back the lead but time and again they found the door being slammed in their face by black defenders.
A scrum at half-way then gave the Ospreys a platform to attack from, a series of drives eventually creating space for Davies who jinked past Keatley before looking to stretch over from 2m out, only for the ball to go down inches short.
It was in the balance with the Ospreys holding the narrowest of leads inside the final five minutes, but a Munster offence at a scrum on halfway allowed Davies to put his team up in the corner, from where the hosts were then pinged for illegally bringing down a maul that was rumbling towards the try-line.
This time the decision was to go for the posts and Davies made no mistake, his successful kick making it a four-point advantage with two to play.
Webb was then forced off for a HIA check inside the final minute after a clash of heads with Saili, Tom Habberfield, on the bench as a wing, joined the action as scrum half.
As expected, Munster threw the kitchen sink at it as the click turned red but aggressive defence drove Munster backwards, eventually forcing a knock-on, bringing to an end a fantastic performance from a young Ospreys team.
Next up is Edinburgh at the Liberty Stadium on Friday night. Buy your tickets online here now – print at home and there’s no booking or admin fee!