A penalty was awarded to Munster with less than 2 minutes remaining to play. “Wrong decision” was the verdict of my neighbour which surprised me as trailing by 5 points a kick for goal would not have been sufficient to win the game and there may not have been a further opportunity. (We did not have time to discuss as play continued but feel free to add your rationale in the comments below.) Duncan Casey threw the lineout on the 5m line. Dave Foley claimed the ball and offloaded it before he was unceremoniously hauled down to prevent the rolling maul. Dave O’Callaghan drove forward, then Mark Chisholm, CJ Stander, James Cronin, Chisholm again took a turn, Dave Foley and then other bodies unidentifiable probing for a chink in the desperate Ospreys defence before CJ with BJ driving him on dived over the black shirts and rolled to ground the ball. That tied the scores and Ian Keatley stepped up to seal victory with the last kick of the game, sending us home with a smile on our faces, knowing that there is still plenty to work on. It was great to see new players and combinations blooded and any type of a win at the Liberty stadium is a bonus. While Ospreys were missing more players on World Cup action Munster needed to take advantage and those valuable points will hopefully stand to us at the end of the season.
Before kick-off I was disappointed that TG4 did not show the tribute to Jerry Collins (RIP) live, there was a glimpse shown at half-time. Apparently there were technical issues with the feed from S4C. Hopefully Peter, Daryl, Steve or Babs who were there may add a comment to let me know more about it. We got a glimpse of the teams lining up for the minutes silence and saw the number 6 jersey laid out on the pitch. Joe Bearman who played in that position wore a shirt with no number on it for the game.
In the 6th minute the supporters burst into applause as another mark of respect for the late Jerry Collins and his wife.
A penalty converted by Sam Davies after 9 minutes was cancelled out by Tyler Bleyendaal – his first league points for Munster – after tighhead prop Arhip handled the ball in a ruck just 3 minutes later. Leading up to that Francis Saili gave a lovely offload to his centrefield partner Rory Scannell, the skill was appreciated by those present in the River bar.
Another Academy debutant, Stephen Fitzgerald caught my eye. He was well positioned to prevent a penalty kick from Ospreys finding touch, instead sending it back nearer to half-way. From the subsequent lineout Leonard came on the charge and it was Fitzgerald who tracked infield to make the crucial tackle. Ospreys retained possession and when awarded a penalty (Munster went offside) Davies launched a super cross field kick but Fitzgerald raced back to claim it, but the highlight of the first half was in the 24th minute when Cathal Sheridan put in a cross field kick and the chase was on as Fitzgerald just got a hand to it but could not ground the ball.
Robin Copeland was next to have a good opportunity to score but support was slow to arrive and a penalty was conceded. At the other end Saili’s clearance kick was blocked down but rolled harmlessly into the dead ball zone before the Ospreys #11 Dirksen could get to it. Munster had scored a second penalty shortly before that to put Munster into the lead when Ospreys went offside. Cathal Sheridan had to go off for a head impact assessment after tackling Joe Bearman when he charged into the Munster 22m. Bearman got the pass to Parry who was tackled by Fitzgerald but Kilcoyne lost his footing when trying to win back the ball and Davies converted the penalty to draw the sides level again on 35 minutes. Sam Parry was some sight with the blood pouring down his face and he had to go off for treatment also from that phase of play. The motto on the side hoardings proclaimed that “Our Blood is Black” but his blood was definitely red!
With the last kick of the half Davies added another penalty when Munster went offside and he continued his 100% kicking record adding the first points of the 2nd half in the 5th minute when a Munster man joined the ruck from offside to move Ospreys to 12-6. However Munster began to put the phases together. They won a penalty and kicked it to touch on the 5m line. The maul was attempted and went close before they changed to pick and goes. A quick pass from Williams found Bleyendaal who put in a perfect cross field kick for Fitzgerald to run on to and he even had space to run a few metres infield before grounding to make the conversion easier. When Bleyendaal added the extra 2 points Munster moved into the lead 12-13 on 53 minutes.
Sam Parry had to go off again when his wound reopened and Munster won the first and second lineout throw by his replacement Otten to keep the pressure on Ospreys. Meanwhile Duncan Casey made a welcome return in his first appearance of the season.
Ospreys moved back into the lead on 62 minutes when Robin Copeland was penalised for holding on, Davies moving them to 15 points. Eight minutes later Ospreys earned another penalty after putting huge pressure on the Munster scrum to extend their lead to 18-13. Stephen Archer had been selected at tighthead but was ill so BJ played longer than usual which may not have helped, but the referee had also spoken to James Cronin in the previous scrum. The result was that Munster ideally needed a second try and that focused their mind as they went on the attack. Saili was prominent in those phases and we got to see his pace and handling skills which the players around him will learn to exploit to run better support lines in the weeks ahead. Munster kept the Ospreys pinned back in their own 22 and it paid off with the penalty on 78′ when after the 15th phase an Ospreys player went off side. Cue CJ…
Check out all of Daryl’s photos from the game here
Munster: Felix Jones Capt.; Andrew Conway, Francis Saili, Rory Scannell, Stephen Fitzgerald; Tyler Bleyendaal, Cathal Sheridan; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha; Mark Chisholm, Dave Foley; Dave O’Callaghan, Jack O’Donoghue, Robin Copeland.
Replacements: Duncan Casey, James Cronin, John Ryan, Jordan Coghlan, CJ Stander, Duncan Williams, Ian Keatley, David Johnston.
Ospreys: D Evans; K Phillips, J Spratt, O Watkin, H Dirksen; S Davies, B Leonard; N Smith, S Parry, D Arhip, L Ashley (capt), R Thornton, J Bearman, S Underhill, D Baker.
Replacements: S Otten, M Thomas, C Griffiths, De Kock Steenkamp, O Cracknell, T Habberfield, A Jenkins, R Fussell.
Down by the river…
Since I had travelled to Cork last weekend this was my first Munster match at the new MRSC Dublin home, the River Bar. Unfortunately the bad weather kept numbers down but the staff who had expected us on Saturday for some reason quickly helped us get set up and even provided a walkie-talkie to contact them upstairs should we need anything or to order more drinks as there were not enough there to warrant staffing the bar downstairs. There was a salsa class in the other section but they turned the music down – the Cuige Mumhan shirted man (Steve) dancing in the Swansea terraces when CJ scored would have fit right in there, he had the moves! He also had much better weather at the Liberty stadium.
Munster don’t have another game until October 2nd but the committee are hoping to get together for the Ireland games there in the coming weeks also. Watch the MRSC Facebook / twitter pages for details.
He’s a corker!!!
A quick update for my regular readers about Dermot and Eilis Coghlan, the elderly brother and sister on my meals on wheels route whose family home – which they were only renting – was sold in the Spring. They met their landlord over the summer and Eilis was well impressed by how handsome he was, telling me that he is a “corker” It’s not every day you hear that phrase from an 80 year old! If you read the Independent the Coghlans featured in a 1916 supplement this week as their father was a great friend of Padraig Pearse who lived in the neighbourhood so they were delighted about that.
I was delighted by the number of hits to last weeks blog from Facebook from my own page and the MRSC page so thanks to the folks there for their support. Hopefully the readers like what they saw and come back for more. A few of them did go back to the Donncha tribute blog to add their favourite memories of him and they signed up to get future editions by email so that was a good sign.
Finally I love this photo by Daryl so had to include it. I will be in Wembley in 2 weeks for the Romania game so say hi if you see me.