Ospreys 13 Munster 32
Munster recorded a rare away win in the Heineken Champions Cup following a dramatic bonus-point victory over Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.
Just when it seemed the fourth try was out of their reach, Munster piled 12 players into their final maul with the clock in the red and James Cronin touched the ball down in dramatic fashion. The Irish province were never in danger of losing with Conor Murray and Tyler Bleyendaal pulling the strings while their forward pack were in tantalising form.
The side recorded one try in the opening half, courtesy of Jeremy Loughman and the 24-year-old played a pivotal role in the side’s third which Andrew Conway finished two minutes after Keith Earls’ try.
The result completed an impressive day for the Irish provinces with Leinster and Ulster recording wins on Saturday afternoon while Connacht are in action against Montpellier on Sunday.
Munster’s pack were highly impressive as captain Peter O’Mahony caught the eye with two clinical turnovers inside the opening four minutes. However, their discipline prevented them from leaving their half as Luke Price got Ospreys off the mark first after Johann van Graan’s side were penalised for being offside. From the restart, Munster immediately went on the attack and their intent was evident when Bleyendaal opted for the corner from a penalty.
Munster chose to go wide where Mike Haley and Keith Earls found themselves with ample space but the final pass was poor and the Ireland international knocked on. A poor clearance allowed the Irish province to keep the pressure on and as they went through the phases, the penalty came. This time, Bleyendaal opted for points and he levelled the game.
Murray and Rory Scannell dominated territory with their kicking game and Graham Rowntree’s stamp was obvious in their ferocity at the breakdown. This led to their second penalty which the fly-half once again slotted midway through the first half. Momentum was firmly with Munster as O’Mahony stole the Ospreys lineout while Murray repeatedly pinned the home side back in their own half. However, their discipline once again hindered them as Tommy O’Donnell was pinged for a high tackle.
The province repeated the offence minutes later, gifting Price the opportunity to level the game which he gratefully accepted. Ospreys weren’t given much reprieve however as a barging run from O’Donnell led to the next Munster attack. After 26 phases, an accidental knock-on handed Munster a scrum just shy of the five-metre line. Murray and Conway quickly offloaded before the forwards took over. Loughman eventually touched down after an impressive first-half shift from the loose-forward. After a TMO check, the try was given and Bleyendaal added the extras in what was the final score of the half.
While Ospreys were handed a couple of penalties at the beginning of the second period, it didn’t take long for Munster to get the scoring underway once more. Their second try came following another searing run down the narrow side from O’Donnell with Munster once again opting to spread the ball wide. Keith Earls did extremely well to keep his feet off the ground under pressure and the winger finished superbly. However, Bleyendaal missed the conversion from the tricky angle.
Their third try came just two minutes later when Loughman expertly set up Conway who accelerated down the wing and touched down for his 11th European try. This time, Bleyendaal made no mistake with his kick to stretch their lead to 19 points.
Find you a prop that thinks he's a fly-half 🙌@Munsterrugby's Jeremy Loughman with a magical left-handed pass as Andrew Conway is unleashed down the wing!
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) November 16, 2019
As the penalty count against Munster crept towards double figures, Ospreys made a rare trip into the opposition’s side of the field. However, their defence held firm and with Munster quick off the line, Ospreys were forced into errors with Tom Williams knocking the ball on and handing them back possession.
Munster were put on the back foot once more when Ospreys turned over the ball following a Munster lineout. A subsequent penalty for the home side was taken quickly and van Graan’s men were forced into scrambling defence. Yet, as was the story with the game, they regathered possession just two phases later and Conway carried the ball back into the Ospreys half. Munster once again threatened the try line through Rory Scannell this time but a brilliant turnover from Price relieved the pressure.
Both sides emptied their respective benches as Munster went in search of the bonus-point win as the clock ticked into the final 10 minutes. Yet it was Ospreys who piled on the pressure in attack. A tackle from Bleyendaal denied Kieran Williams a certain try as Munster desperately defended. Referee Karl Dickson eventually awarded them a five-metre try and a subsequent penalty. Quick thinking from substitute Aled Davies saw the scrum-half register his side’s first try in the 78th minute.
Munster were given one final opportunity with the clock in red when Sammy Arnold was awarded the penalty at the breakdown. Mike Haley launched the ball deep into Ospreys territory and the home side were penalised for offside. From the resulting lineout, Munster mauled over the line with James Cronin receiving the plaudits before Bleyendaal sealed the 19-point win.
Ospreys: Cai Evans, Hanno Dirksen, Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, Scott Williams, Tom Williams, Luke Price, Shaun Venter; Rhodri Jones, Scott Otten, Ma’afu Fia, Marvin Orie, Lloyd Ashley, Dan Lydiate, Olly Cracknell, Morgan Morris.
Replacements: Ifan Phillips, Nicky Smith, Gheorghe Gajion, Bradley Davies, Sam Cross, Aled Davies, James Hook, Kieran Williams.
Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (C), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Tadhg Beirne, Arno Botha, Alby Mathewson, Sammy Arnold, Dan Goggin.
Referee: Karl Dickson.