The Ospreys’ 13 game winning run was ended in heartbreaking fashion at the Liberty Stadium, Munster snatching the lead away from the hosts with two minutes left to play.
- Ospreys lead 14-3 inside 13 minutes with tries from Hanno Dirksen and Kieron Fonotia but allow Munster to claw their way back into the game
- Sam Davies kicks 13 points but Munster clinch the win with a 78th minute try to end the Ospreys long winning run and inflict only a fourth defeat on the region in the PRO12 this season, two at the hands of today's opponents
- Ospreys now have to regroup ahead of the visit of 2015 champions Glasgow next Sunday (1.05pm KO)
Having led by 14 points early on the Ospreys had been in the driving seat but costly unforced errors allowed the visitors to claw their way back into it and they trailed by just two at the break.
In a dramatic second half, both sides has scores chalked off by the TMO and, as Munster’s relentless pressure was met by incredible defence from the Ospreys, something had to give, the visitors eventually breaking down the black wall to snatch victory.
There was still time for late drama with a late TMO referral for potential Munster foul play after the clocked turned red eventually providing only further frustration for Steve Tandy’s team.
Hanno Dirksen and Kieron Fonotia both scored tries in the first quarter, while Sam Davies kicked 13 points, although just the one penalty came in a second half his team played increasingly on the back foot.
Munster skipper Tyler Bleyendaal got the game underway and less than 180 seconds later he also got the scoreboard moving with a straightforward penalty following a high tackle.
That score sparked the perfect response, the home side carving the Munster defence open for a superb team try. Ashley Beck released Sam Underhill on halfway, the flanker bursting through the gap to carry over halfway to the 22 where he had James King in support. King found Dirksen and the winger fended off the tackler to score in the corner, Davies with the extras.
The Ospreys were playing with confidence and it wasn’t long before try number two came, the pack winning the ball at a Munster put-in and quick ball allowing Fonotia to go over for the score, Davies converting once again.
It looked as though try number three had been chalked up before we’d even reached 20 minutes, 22 phases of possession in and around the Munster 22 eventually seeing Ashley Beck taking the ball at pace off Davies and cruising through a gap and over the line but referee Marius Mitrea referred it upstairs and replays showed a clear forward pass from the Ospreys 10.
However, the lead was extended just a couple of minutes later when Davies slotted over a three-pointer following a Munster offside.
Bleyendaal then responded with a simple kick from right in front of the posts after Underhill was penalised for hands in the ruck, which meant the scoreboard read 17-6 as the half hour approached.
The Ospreys were looking comfortable despite a long period of Munster pressure, but they were left kicking themselves after allowing the visitors the simplest of scoring opportunities.
There was little danger with an Ospreys lineout in their 22 to clear, but a quickly taken throw to Dan Evans saw the full back isolated and penalised for holding on. Munster went to the corner and Jack O’Donoghue crashed over from a set play at the line out to score.
Bleyendaal missed the conversion, before Davies kept his 100% record with the boot intact at the other end after a Munster offside to give his team a nine point lead with 60 seconds left of the half.
There was still time for Munster to score before the break though and, again, it stemmed from Ospreys inaccuracy, losing 40m from a clearance to touch after the ball was carried back inside the 22.
Although Munster’s initial attack from the lineout was repelled, they were able to generate enough momentum to eventually create the gap for Francis Saili to crash over, Bleyendaal converting to bring the visitors back to within two points at the break.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 20 MUNSTER 18
The opening minutes of the second half were a real arm wrestle as both sides fought for supremacy and it wasn’t until the clock reached 50 minutes that either side were able to create an opening.
It was the Ospreys who patiently moved the ball, showing great control to work space on the right where Keelan Giles released Beck in the corner. The centre looked to have grounded it, only for the referee and TMO to rule otherwise, ignoring what had looked like a clear no arms tackle on Beck by Saili before his attempt to ground it.
As the clock ticked down it was becoming increasingly tense and an offside call against Munster’s Rory Scannell provided Davies with a sight of the posts which he gratefully accepted to nudge his side five points clear a minute shy of the hour.
There was a scare for the Ospreys when Ronan O’Mahony chased Andrew Conway’s grubber up the right, putting pressure on Tom Habberfield as he chased back but, although the Munster knock-on three metres away from the line appeared clear to the naked eye, it was another decision that went upstairs, eventually resulting in an Ospreys scrum allowing them to clear.
Munster came back, piling the pressure on the Ospreys line and only a big tackle by Dirksen stopped Darren Sweetnam a metre out in the corner.
The Irish side kept pounding away and it looked a certain try for Bleyendaal as he crashed over from close range but, with the question for the TMO was there any reason not to award the try, replays showed that a great defensive effort from Beck and Ben John had held him up, an Osprey hand getting under the ball to prevent the grounding.
With the black wall coming under increased pressure, the biggest cheer of the match came as the clock hit 70 minutes, the Ospreys awarded a penalty on their own line, Munster penalised for not releasing as they grew increasingly frustrated.
However, the pressure had to tell and it did when prop Dave Kilcoyne crashed over from close range in the 78th minute to square things at 23-23 following a counter attack from Sweetnam and Conway, Bleyendaal’s conversion giving Munster a two-point advantage.
There was still time for late drama as the Ospreys looked to find what would have been a dramatic winning score. When the ball was lost forward and put in to touch by Munster, they celebrated the win only for Mr Mitrea to go to the TMO yet again, this time for an apparent high tackle on Brendon Leonard by Kevin O’Byrne.
The views of the Ospreys support were obvious but, much to their annoyance no action was taken and that was that.
The Ospreys had to settle for a losing bonus point which leaves them in third place, four points behind today’s opponents who lead the PRO12 table and trailing Leinster in second by a single point, with the Scarlets six behind in fourth and Ulster a further six behind that in fifth.