Varley sees red as Munster cave in
Ospreys 30 Munster 15:ROB PENNEY has slammed Munster’s performance against the Ospreys but reckons it will prove a crucial learning experience.
The province crashed to their fourth consecutive defeat at the hands of the reigning RaboDirect PRO12 champions on Saturday night and never looked like taking control of the Liberty Stadium encounter. They were put to the sword by tries from Richard Fussell, the Ospreys’ powerful scrum and Richard Hibbard.
“We didn’t bring anything. For some reason we were flat, “ Penney said afterwards. “We lacked the intensity and physicality that we’ve had in previous weeks. The Ospreys did really well and beat us up.
“But it’s just another step along the learning path. People are still finding their way in terms of their mental preparation and their ability to travel and be in another environment. We’ve coped with that well a couple of times, but not against the Ospreys.”
Munster’s woes were compounded when replacement hooker Damien Varley was shown red after he lashed out at Alun Wyn Jones with the boot.
Varley will now face a disciplinary hearing and if he is found guilty of kicking an opponent he will miss the opening rounds of the Heineken Cup. The offence carries a four-week suspension at the lesser end of the spectrum and 12 weeks plus for more serious transgressions.
Penney added: “I haven’t seen it, so I can’t comment. Damien has a pretty good record in that area.
“He said he got his foot caught up in a tackle and didn’t do anything. We’ll just wait and see what unfolds.”
Munster welcomed back several internationals but quickly lost Conor Murray following a clash of heads.
Dan Biggar fired the hosts into the lead with a penalty inside 10 minutes and he doubled the Ospreys’ advantage when Simon Zebo took out Hanno Dirksen when chasing a hack.
Munster found themselves even further behind when Peter Stringer saw his box-kick charged down, the ball was recycled and Fussell bundled over.
Biggar converted but Munster fought their way back into the encounter and enjoyed a promising 20 minutes at the end of the half. Ronan O’Gara knocked over Munster’s first points on 24 minutes. The men in red continued to lay siege to the Ospreys’ line before O’Gara reduced the deficit to 13-6 at the interval.
O’Gara kicked the scoreboard back into action on 42 minutes but the Ospreys quickly exerted their dominance and Tommy O’Donnell was sent to the sin-bin for pulling down a rampaging maul. Biggar slotted the penalty and the Ospreys continued to punish Munster for their indiscipline.
They launched sustained attacks and after being awarded a five-metre scrum they made the weight of the numerical advantage count with a penalty try.
Penney rang the changes, with an entirely new front row among his mass substitution. The Ospreys almost grabbed another quick-fire try after turning over a promising attack but Keith Earls scrambled back to make a try-saving tackle.
Ian Keatley kicked a penalty on 66 minutes but the Welsh region instantly responded when Hibbard raced over the line. Munster’s frustrations boiled over when Varley was sent-off.
OSPREYS: R Fussell; H Dirksen, A Bishop, A Beck, T Isaacs; D Biggar, K Fotuali’i; R Bevington, R Hibbard, A Jarvis; A W Jones, I Evans; R Jones, J Bearman, J Tipuric. Replacements: J Thomas abd A Jones for Bearman and Jarvis (both 57 mins), D Jones for Bevington (62 mins), S Baldwin for Hibbard (68 mins), G Stowers for R Jones and R Webb for Fotuail’i (both 72 mins), M Morgan for D Biggar (75 mins).
MUNSTER: D Hurley; D Howlett, K Earls, C Laulala, S Zebo, R O’Gara, C Murray; W Du Preez, M Sherry; D O’Callaghan, B Holland; T O’Donnell, N Ronan, P Butler. Replacements: P Stringer for Murray (14 mins), D Kilcoyne for Du Preez, D Varley for Sherry, BJ BothA for Archer, P O’Mahony for Butler, D Ryan for Holland (all 53 mins), I Keatley for O’Gara (58 mins) J Downey for Zebo (70 mins). Yellow card: O’Donnell (51 mins). Red card: Varley (72 mins)
Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU).