The Ospreys were brought crashing back to earth after consecutive bonus point wins in their last two Guinness PRO12 outings, suffering a chastening experience at the hands of Munster in Cork.
- Trailing 14-0 inside the first quarter of an hour, the Ospreys prevented Munster adding to their lead for 40 minutes but were, eventually, blown away by their hosts, who leapfrog them in the table to go top of the PRO12
- On a disappointing night in Cork the Ospreys failed to register on the scoreboard for only a second time
- Next up for the Ospreys are Anglo-Welsh Cup games against Harlequins and Cardiff Blues, before a trip to Glasgow at the end of the month in the PRO12
Whatever the result of the Scarlets v Glasgow clash in Llanelli on Saturday night, the region will remain in the top four ahead of a two week break from championship action, but that is scant consolation following a disappointing evening at Irish Indepdent Park.
Missing 12 players on international duty with Wales, the Ospreys were always going to be up against it, but they were blown away by an opening salvo that saw Munster roar into a 14 point lead in as many minutes. The Ospreys were able to prevent Munster extending their lead for a further 40 minutes, but rarely looked like scoring themselves, before the hosts ran away with it in the final quarter.
Munster roared out of the starting blocks, piling pressure on the Ospreys from the first whistle, the opening stages played out almost exclusively between halfway and the visitors’ 22.
The Ospreys weren’t helped by some unforced errors that prevented them from relieving the early pressure, and the opening score duly went to the hosts with nine minutes played.
It stemmed from a lost lineout just outside the Ospreys 22, Munster stealing possession and, although the Ospreys were able to repel the initial attack in the corner, the respite was only temporary, Dave Kilcoyne burrowing over from close range, Tyler Bleyendaal converting.
It was 14-0 with barely 14 minutes on the clock as, again, Munster stole possession at the setpiece and pounded on the line, Darren Sweetnam eventually diving over and Bleyendaal doing the necessary from the touchline.
As the clock ticked past the half hour there was no change to the scoreboard but, in truth, the Ospreys were failing to get any kind of foothold in the contest and there was a setback when Dan Evans left the field following a clash of heads with Jaco Taute, Dafydd Howells entering the action at fullback.
Their first meaningful opportunity, five minutes before the break, saw Josh Matavesi opting to go to the corner instead of the posts after a quick tap and go from Tom Habberfield gained an extra 10m at a penalty, Munster not retreating.
However, having failed to secure clean ball, the Ospreys were turned over on the Munster line, allowing the hosts to clear, summing up a disappointing first 40 for the Ospreys.
HALF-TIME: MUNSTER 14 OSPREYS 0
With Evans back on the field for the restart it was essential that the Ospreys kept it tight in defence and grabbed the first points of the second half if they were going to keep alive any hope of getting something from the contest.
However, after a scoreless, and more solid for the visitors, 14 minutes, where neither side looked like creating anything, the Ospreys were the architects of their own downfall once again. They were looking to run the ball out from their own 22 only for Matavesi’s attempted pass to Keelan Giles to go to ground, right at the feet of Ronan O’Mahoney. The Munster wing was alert, punting the ball through and then cantering over the line to score.
Bleyendaal’s conversion went narrowly wide but Munster led 19-0 with 25 minutes still to play.
With an hour gone the Ospreys were eventually able to put their first move of real menace together, Giles and Jonathan Spratt combining to take their team up deep into Munster territory, and then it was the Ospreys who were stealing possession at the lineout from an opposition throw.
Brendon Leonard, on as a temporary replacement for Habberfield, looked to have combined with Joe Bearman to find a way through, putting the ball down for what would have been the Ospreys first points of the night but it was referred upstairs where the TMO confirmed a clear knock-on by the Ospreys’ number eight, followed by an offside against the scrum half.
To rub salt into the wounds, the next score went Munster’s way and, in fairness, it was no less than the men in red deserved, going through phase after phase to stretch the defence before Kilcoyne finished it off, his second and Munster’s fourth. Bleyendaal added the extras and Munster were 26 points ahead with 10 minutes remaining.
Only a last ditch tackle from Walker on Sweetnam prevented Munster adding a fifth in the 75th minute but there was still time for one final score by the hosts, former Cardiff Blues man, Robin Copeland, powering over from a ruck, Bleyendaal’s fourth conversion rounding off the scoring.
The Ospreys now have to dust themselves down and regroup as they prepare for two Anglo-Welsh Cup fixtures before traveling to Glasgow at the end of the month in their next PRO12 fixture.