Who would have expected Jean Kleyn to be breathing down Alex Wootton’s neck for the accolade of top try scorer after three rounds of the league? With four tries in three games he is just one behind the speedy winger. By picking up the Man of the Match award in Swansea he is also making a valuable contribution to my Pro14 Fantasy Rugby team!
A good start would have been even better if Tyler had converted two early penalty kicks in the opening 6 minutes.
The scrum was immense! I watched the game in the River Bar with the MRSC Dublin folks and even a couple of Ospreys supporters. The Sky commentators were raving about the power and weight which Jean Kleyn brought to the scrum!
There was an early opportunity for a try after an excellent break by Duncan Williams. Munster kept the ball alive and went wide before coming back into midfield.
Unfortunately the final pass from Alex to Jaco was forward so he was called back. A penalty won at the subsequent scrum in front of the posts was successfully kicked to get Munster onto the scoreboard in the 9th minute.
Despite all Munster’s possession and territory it was Ospreys who were next to score. A penalty conceded for not releasing in the tackle gave Davies an opportunity to kick to touch to set up a lineout in the Munster 22. The maul was repelled so they went to their backs. Chris Farrell broke the defensive line to put in a big tackle on Sam Davies but he had gotten the ball away to James Hook who took an excellent line from outside the 22 to score a try, which put Ospreys in the lead. Davies converted to make it 7-3 in the 13th minute.
Munster’s scrum continued to put the Ospreys under pressure even on their own put-in and when they conceded a penalty Tyler kicked to touch. Sean O’Connor gathered and the maul was making some progress when an Ospreys player tackled Rhys Marshall at the back, coming in from the side. Tyler again kicked to touch pinning the hosts back. Jean secured possession and the pack mauled forward. It came out to Jaco and then Stephen took it on before Billy popped the ball up to Jean who drive over the line with support from Tommy in the 19th minute. The conversion brought the score to 7-10.
Approaching the end of the first half there was an exchange of kicks. Andrew Conway chased and claimed his own garryowen before going to ground. Jack went in at scrum half and passed the ball to Liam O’Connor who changed the direction of play, finding Jaco. His pass found Chris Farrell who took a great line through the defence. Sean was in support and took on the ball when Chris was being lined up by Davies.
Sean got to within a few metres of the line before being tackled but he presented the ball well for the arriving support. Billy got the ball to Jaco whose floated pass found Darren who dotted down in the corner. The conversion was missed so Munster took a 7-15 lead in at half time.
At half time on Sky they interviewed young Regan Webb who had participated in the minis game and his proud father Rhys! Munster could soon be in a similar position with plenty of additions to the next generation in recent years!
Sean O’Connor almost got on the scoresheet early in the second half. As Andrew chased another garryowen the Ospreys scrumhalf was penalized for crossing in front of him. The penalty was kicked to touch in the Ospreys 22. Sean claimed the lineout. The maul made some ground before Rhys Marshall broke up the blind side. Stephen was next to carry, then Sean who was tackled but driven over the line by the players arriving in support. However it was not awarded – momentum v double movement.. I could argue the other way…
As conditions deteriorated, a penalty kick by Sam Davies reduced the Ospreys deficit but that was cancelled out by Tyler in the 5oth minute. The front row was changed, John Ryan coming on at tight head to become the latest Munster centurion.
Davies reduced the gap to 5 points again with another penalty kick in the 56th minute (13-18). A miskick by Tyler took the ball over the end line, giving Ospreys a scrum. When the Munster pack was penalized for turning the scrum, Sam Davies stepped up and landed a great penalty from the 10m line to reduce the gap to 2 points. Ospreys were on the front foot but Munster soaked up the pressure. Possession was a liability in those conditions.
Munster won a penalty from their scrum in the 73rd minute. Rory Scannell who had replaced Jaco kicked for touch. The lineout was secured by Robin Copeland who had replaced Sean. The maul was taken down by the Ospreys winning Munster another penalty. Tyler kicked that one to touch and they went again, playing down the clock and working the conditions. Billy claimed the lineout. Munster went through the phases, working their way infield when Ospreys were penalized for not releasing in front of the posts. Tyler lined up the kick and restored the 5 point lead but there was still time for the Ospreys to snatch a draw or even victory, setting up a tense final 3 minutes.
From the restart Chris knocked the ball back, Niall Scannell charged forward with Robin in support. When he was tackled, Duncan got the ball away quickly to Tyler who threaded a lovely grubber kick through. Alex Wootton set off in chase and while he did not get to it first he forced Keelan Giles to take it into touch and set up another Munster lineout in a great position as the clock ticked into the final 2 minutes.
A conceded penalty gave Ospreys a chance to launch an attack from their own 5m line. Biggar kicked for touch. Munster pinned them back as the clock passed 80 minutes, only to concede another penalty to give the Ospreys a final throw of the dice. They probed one way and then came back the other before Sam Davies found a gap. He offloaded to Keelan Giles but Alex Wootton got to him and Simon Zebo (on for Conway) made sure of it by forcing him into touch to bring the game to an end.
Ospreys: Evans (Biggar 78); Giles, Allen ( Fonotia 54), Hook, Hassler; S Davies, Habberfield; James (Smith 40), Parry (Baldwin 40), Fia (Jones 75), B Davies, Ashley (Beard 52), Lydiate (Mercer 52), Tipuric, Baker. Replacement not used: Aubrey.
Munster: Conway (Zebo 64); Sweetnam, Farrell, Taute (R Scannell 55), Wootton; Bleyendaal, Williams; L O’Connor (Cronin 52), Marshall (N Scannell 52), Archer (Ryan 52), Kleyn, Holland, S O’Connor (Copeland 66), O’Donnell, O’Donoghue. Replacements not used: Wycherley, Hart.
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa) – one of the changes with the expansion of the Pro12 to the Pro14 will be the inclusion of South African referees.
while not seeing much player rotation in the first three rounds of the league it is worth noting that only five of the starters this week started the Pro12 final. This experience will give a great boost to the two Academy players and shows there is genuine competition for places.
Stats: from ESPN are here
Daryl’s set of photos can be found on his Facebook page here
TG4 player has the game on their player: http://www.tg4.ie/ga/player/baile/?pid=5578246261001 while Sky have highlights in English here
The Gentle Giant and other anecdotes:
After the game I was chatting to Michelle, Kevin and Sinead and asked if we would be handing out flags in the Aviva next month as we had for the European semi-final and Pro12 final last season, given that it was Leinster home game. We used to distribute them outside the stadium in previous years but there was an issue with permits so we had to desist. Anyway Sinead had a funny story to tell about when she was handing out flags at the Aviva before the Pro12 final. She offered flags to two men, who were obviously Munster supporters, one of whom was very tall. When they made no effort to accept the flags she took them to task and told them that they were not too cool to wave them and informed them in her best school-mistress manner that they would take them and they would wave them and that was the end of the matter! Sinead is 5’2″ or 5’3″ with a great bubbly personality and I can imagine her telling the lads off! Sinead is actually a Dub and a Leinster fan but was helping out on the day. When Kevin the Chairman of MRSC Dublin came over to replenish her stock of flags she asked him about the 2 men as there was something curious about how they were dressed the same but very different sizes… “Who are they?” she asked. “What did you do?” he countered as he had recognized them as Jean Kleyn and Angus Lloyd (the scrumhalf who had played with Munster at the end of last season.) The lads were probably a bit bemused by the encounter.
Some folks were talking about taking a trip to South Africa in April or in the nearer term to the Castres game (tickets now available on the Castres website). I have booked flights via London to Toulouse for that game so the news of Ryanair cancelling flights at short notice is a concern to say the least. Should I book via an alternative carrier to be sure of my flights?
Over the summer I came across this carving of Ronan O’Gara made by Ray Ryan whose father is from my home town of Thurles. Dick proudly showed it to me when I visited in August. A nice piece of work, a labour of love.
And speaking of love.. a photo from the wedding of Annika and James who met after watching a game with MRSC Dublin back in the Break for the Border days and the rest as they say is history… It was lovely to be invited to their special day in Clare and to see each other in our guna’s and suits instead of our more usual Munster gear!