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Another Strong Finish! Ospreys: 23 – Munster: 25

Supporting Munster may not always be easy on our nerves or blood pressure but their pride in the jersey, their determination to fight until they hear the bell, their fitness levels, workrate and self-belief make it a rewarding experience.  The four valuable points earned in Swansea restored them to top spot in the Pro12 league.  The famed Munster defense against the most prolific try scorers could have resulted in a low-scoring arm wrestle but instead it was an exciting full-on game where momentum swung dramatically from one side to the other at different stages in the game.  The updated table is below;  conceding just 21 tries in 15 games is a fantastic achievement while the 49 tries scored isn’t shabby at all!

table

Munster were on the attack in the opening minutes and were first onto the scoreboard when Tyler Bleyendaal put an early penalty kick between the posts after a high tackle.  However the Ospreys then had an extended period of domination.  Sky flashed up a stat showing Munster only had 21% possession in the opening 18 minutes!   Sky also showed 6 missed tackles in the opening 14 minutes contributing to the two tries scored by Ospreys – a great line break set up by their back row of Sam Underhill with James King taking it on before it was finished off by Hanno Dirksen.  Their second was even more disappointing as it came off a Munster scrum when Ospreys disrupted to win possession.  A few missed tackles later Ospreys scored again, this time through Kieron Fonotia after some good work by Ashley Beck.  Sam Davies converted both and Ospreys were 14-3 ahead within 13 minutes.  It looked like this would be a short blog!  A forward pass helped Munster avoid conceding three tries in the opening quarter when the TMO confirmed that Beck was in front of Davies.  However a penalty for offside against Munster gave Davies a chance to extend their lead, his kick made it 17-3 within 24 minutes.

Jerry Flannery was asked for a soundbite shortly after and it was all about the “D” – defensive issues!  Possession and territory were also in short supply as the stats below show but Munster began to grow into the game.  They put more phases together and their pressure paid off.

A good scrum won a penalty for Munster which was kicked to touch.  The maul was repelled but Munster retained possession.  Ospreys conceded another penalty in front of the posts so Munster opted to take the 3 points on offer.

Ospreys took a quick throw-in after forcing Ronan O’Mahony into touch, but Rhys Marshall was up quick to tackle the recipient while Duncan Williams in support won a penalty when the Ospreys player did not release the ball.  That was kicked to touch and Ospreys were expecting to defend a maul.  Munster showed good variation in their play.  Dave O’Callaghan secured the ball and offloaded quickly to Billy Holland who passed to Jack O’Donoghue on the charge for him to score with only Keelan Giles between him and the line.

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Daryl Feehely captures Jack on the charge leading up to his try

Tyler Bleyendaal was surprised to see his conversion was unsuccessful.  A penalty against Darren O’Shea for being ahead of the kicker gave Ospreys an easy penalty to make it 20-11 entering the final minute of the half.

However a kick out on the full gave Munster one more attacking platform before the break.  We roared about the headlock put on Rhys Marshall but play continued, going from one side to the other.   Jack O’Donoghue showed great strength not to forced into touch (with help from Ronan O’Mahony) before play came back infield.  A lovely offload from Tyler to Saili put the latter through a gap.  While he was tackled he was able to stretch over the line to score. Tyler converted.  As the players headed for the changing rooms Ospreys must have wondered how their 14 point lead had been cut to just 2!

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Francis Saili scores the second try just before the break – photo by Daryl Feehely

There was plenty of controversy in the second half.  Ospreys thought they had scored but the TMO advised that the base of the corner flag is out of play.  The tackle on Beck leading up to it by Saili looked to be worthy of TMO review but was not which understandably angered the home supporters. (update Saili was cited for that incident but no sanction was applied as it was not deemed to be a red card offence)

An offside by Rory Scannell gave Ospreys their only points of the half after 58 minutes when Sam Davies kicked that penalty between the posts to make it a five point game.

A lovely kick through by Andrew Conway was chased by Darren Sweetnam who almost won the foot race to the line but could not control the ball.  However the knock-on kept Munster in the right part of the pitch.  Another ball to Darren on the wing was also well defended but crucially Munster retained possession.   Tyler came agonizingly close to the line in the 65th minute but the TMO advised the ball was just short.

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Tyler Bleyndaal just short – photo by Daryl Feehely

Another 5m scrum for Munster should have provided a chance to pile on more pressure but Ospreys drove Munster back.  Wave after wave of Munster players attacked the Ospreys defensive line before conceding a penalty for not releasing.  The clock continued to tick down.

Reinforcements played their part.  Dan Goggin and Conor Oliver kept the momentum going after a super break by Sweetnam with Conway in support.  Another break by Andrew Conway after a sweet pass by Tyler brought play to within a few metres of the line.  Kevin O’Byrne carried, before Kilcoyne who seemed to lose his balance and be driven backwards over the line.  He fell the right way to score.  However he seemed to hurt his knee and was taken off with Peter McCabe taking his place.

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Dave Kilcoyne scores the third try – photo by Daryl Feehely

Tyler’s conversion under pressure put Munster into a 2 point lead with less than 2 minutes of normal time remaining.  An anxious few minutes as twice the referee indicated advantage to Ospreys but Munster kept them pinned back in their own half.  I was surprised and relieved to hear him say “advantage over.”

A great turnover won by Kevin O’Byrne secured possession for Munster.  Andrew Conway kicked the ball out but our celebrations were cut short when the TMO was asked to check for a high tackle on the Ospreys scrum half.  Players on both teams lay stretched out on the pitch, exhausted!  The replays showed Kevin and Conor had combined to tackle Brendon Leonard but they had not been too high so Marius Mitrea blew the final whistle.

Munster: I Keatley (A Conway 46); D Sweetnam, F Saili, R Scannell, R O’Mahony (D Goggin 71); T Bleyendaal, D Williams; D Kilcoyne (P McCabe 79), R Marshall (K O’Byrne 54), J Ryan (S Archer 79); D O’Shea (D Foley 46), B Holland; D O’Callaghan, T O’Donnell (C Oliver 71), J O’Donoghue. Replacement not used: Abrie Griesel.

OSPREYS: Dan Evans; Keelan Giles, Kieron Fonotia, Ashley Beck, Hanno Dirksen; Sam Davies, Tom Habberfield (capt); Nicky Smith, Scott Baldwin, Rhodri Jones, Lloyd Ashley, Rory Thornton, Olly Cracknell, Sam Underhill, James King.  Replacements: Sam Parry, Paul James, Daniel Suter, Tyler Ardron, Dan Baker, Brendon Leonard, Luke Price, Ben John.

Congratulations to Billy Holland on his 150th appearance for Munster.  Billy put in another big performance tonight including a super lineout steal and another big defensive display.

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Billy Holland at the heart of a Munster maul – photo by Daryl

Stats from ESPN are here – the back row and Billy made a serious amount of tackles, Jack was top with 23!  This week’s man of the match Dave O’Callaghan made 19 of Munster’s 173 tackles.  The stats don’t reflect the momentum shifts within each half but Munster dominated the closing stages of both halves.

stats

Daryl Feehely took some great action (and crowd) shots as usual, which you can view in full here

SKY SPORTS highlights are on their website here

Match reports from The42.ie and WalesOnLine and post match views of Rassie Erasmus reported in the Examiner

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Mam of the match Dave O’Callaghan on the charge – photo by Daryl Feehely

Also worth reading these words about Conor Oliver from someone who should know – Wally himself wrote in the Independent: “He has all of the attributes to become a really good flanker, and he’s unique in Irish rugby at the moment.   Oliver is smaller and that allows him to use his fantastic agility to get to the breakdown a bit quicker. He has big future in the game.”

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Conor Oliver and Jack O’Donoghue – photo by Daryl

The Social Side

The look on the faces of the two lads who wandered downstairs in the River Bar (presumably looking for the toilets or maybe a salsa class) as we were chanting “Kil-ler, Kil-ler!” in celebration of Dave Kilcoyne’s try-scoring heroics was priceless.  I am sure they were surprised to see such a large crowd wearing Munster jerseys in the heart of Dublin!  They knew better than to walk across in front of the screen until there was a break in play.  The conversion was also greeted with a big cheer and the turnover which enabled Munster to end the game was louder if possible until we saw the referee indicate he was referring to the TMO!  Not another last minute penalty to test our already strained nerves!  We watched the replay and concluded that it was not above the shoulder but our opinion counted for nought.  When we heard the referee and TMO come to the same conclusion and the final whistle blew we almost blew the roof in relief and celebration!  No it wasn’t easy, unlike the 33-0 home fixture against the Ospreys in Cork in November but it was sweet!

There was a good crowd again in the River bar for the game, many familiar faces and readers of the blog so it is always nice to meet them in person.  There was a cute toddler in her super hero costume who I had not seen there before.  Wearing a red cape it was clear who she was supporting and given the win she may be our lucky mascot!

Jim almost succeeded with the positive vibes he was sending Munster for an intercept try early in the second half as Conway came very close to making one!  Keep practicing Jim, we might be glad of your abilities in a future close game.

Great to see all four Irish provinces win this weekend as did Racing 92 (bonjour Pascal!)  I will be in Limerick next weekend for the third of four legs against Welsh opposition, this time it will be the turn of Scarlets before the game in Cardiff.  Check out the WTView Facebook page for interesting articles about Munster rugby during the week.

If you enjoy the blog please share it on social media, tell your friends, like / comment etc.  Last week’s view numbers were disappointing – maybe the 6 nations meant we all overloaded on rugby!

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Nearly another try for Darren Sweetnam – photo by Daryl

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12 comments on “Another Strong Finish! Ospreys: 23 – Munster: 25

  1. Well done Gayl, another good blog especially about the strain on the coronary muscles! Was Tyler surprised to see his 1st conversion unsuccessful, or was he surprised that it was not awarded?

  2. Well done Gayl, another good blog especially about the strain on the coronary muscles! Was Tyler surprised to see his 1st conversion unsuccessful, or was he surprised that it was not awarded?

    • Morning Ian, he was definitely surprised as were we all! Yes last weekend we risked frostbite and this weekend it was a different type of health challenge but it’s great to see the way they took control of the game and kept fighting for the crucial score they needed. Winning is a great habit to form 🙂

  3. Good stuff Gayl. I couldn’t believe that Munster actually won it. Mainly because in my little head I had settled for a losing bonus point all week. Just as well I’m not the team psychologist! But it was a hugely significant result, with Kilcoyne proving – again – how valuable he is to the team.

  4. Hi Gayl. This terrific away win against Ospreys, definitely another one of those “stand up and fight until you hear the bell” matches , sees Munster set the pace again in the Pro12. Congrats on blog achieving 75,635 hits.

    • Thanks Tony, yes they certainly are living up to their anthem these days. I am sure they are kicking themselves for giving Ospreys such a head start but they reeled them in and showed they know how to score a nice try or three themselves! Glad to report this weeks edition has had more views in 16 hours than last weeks in a full week! Maybe it was the 6 nations, or people were busy with early Valentines day events but good to see more interest this week.

  5. We like to live dangerously…..another victory snatched from the jaws of defeat! More importantly, it was another victory during the 6 nations season. Our returning internationals will have to fight for the their places. Looking forward to the Scarlets next week.

    • We are seeing great depth in the squad and competition for places which is great. Great to see the Academy lads stepping up and two of the younger players Kevin & Conor winning the final turnover to end the game! Delighted also to read that Andrew Conway is in the squad of 34 announced for the France game today. He was superb when he came on and was unlucky to pick up an injury before the opening game. Great selection headaches for Rassie and team! http://www.irishrugby.ie/news/39131.php#.WKnXD8uvlPY

  6. Summed up brilliantly again what a comeback after the poor start think the turning point in the game was when they had the try disallowed for a forward pass when they were 14 points up. Spoke to Tommy O’Donnell after the game and he was delighted with the win.
    I don’t like calling referees but Mario is a nightmare the game always lands on one of his crazy decisions a top the table clash should be refereed by a top official both sets of fans were left scratching there heads with his decisions.
    On the plus side I was one of many Munster fans delighted by our performance after that first Twenty minutes and hoping for another one on Friday night.

    • My Monday night comment – I could nearly set my clock by you Peter! Did I see you on the big screen at the start and end and also in Daryl’s photo collection from the game?
      I am sure you were delighted by the big recovery and if they had gotten that try in the first half they could have been out of sight but there was a definite turn in momentum in the second quarter and you could see they were rattled. Based on last season’s finishes in the league this would not have been a top of the table clash but both teams are doing so much better this season. We will likely meet again in the play-offs.
      Another Welsh scalp this weekend would be very welcome before my trip to Cardiff for the 4th installment. See you there!

  7. Haha Daryl and Sky had the wide angle lenses out for me. Talking to some Osprey fans after and they would prefer to play Leister than us in the play off. Look forward to next weeks blog and speak soon re Cardiff.

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