Munster hammered by Ospreys


Rugby: Ospreys 45 Munster 10:In the end this RaboDirect Pro12 semi-final at the Liberty stadium degenerated into a rout and a dreadfully disappointing way for Munster coach Tony McGahan to sign off his time in charge of the Irish province.

The Irish province will rue a misfiring lineout but to be honest they were second best in virtually every facet of the game and it was only a little good fortune that kept the score-line under 50 points; and only just. It was a harsh lesson for several young players. Peter O’Mahony worked incredibly hard, Keith Earls was a real threat in possession but the plus points were meagre.

The Ospreys will play the winners of tomorrow’s semi-final between Leinster and the Glasgow Warriors at the RDS. If it is the Irish province then the final will be in Dublin whereas if Glasgow prevail then the Opsreys will have the final on home soil.

Munster suffered a blow prior to the kick-off with the late withdrawal of fullback Felix Jones. Johne Murphy took over the number 15 jersey with Ivan Dinneen coming in on the wing. Indeed misfortune seemed to follow the fullback jersey as Murphy was forced off with an ankle injury after just 23 minutes.

This saw Ronan O’Gara introduced at outhalf with Ian Keatley, who started so well, moving to fullback. The latter gave the visitors the lead after just two minutes. Keith Earls chose a beautiful line to cut through the Ospreys’ midfield defence, avoided the challenge of Kahn Fortuali’i and timed his pass perfectly to the supporting Keatley.

The Munster outhalf showed good pace to outrace the cover and touch down before adding the conversion. His Ospreys counterpart Dan Biggar reduced the deficit with a penalty before the home side believed that they had scored a try of their own. Replays showed that Shane Williams put a foot in touch before touching down following a wonderful sweeping move from the Welsh side.

The reprieve was short lived for Munster as they lost the subsequent lineout and after some powerful surges, Ospreys’ secondrow and captain Alun Wyn Jones offloaded superbly to the supporting Biggar who raced under the posts unchallenged. The latter added the conversion and two subsequent penalties as Munster’s discipline at the breakdown was poor.

Munster flanker Tommy O’Donnell was lucky to avoid a yellow card following a blatant offence in his own 22. Referee Alain Rolland issused the visitors’ captain Peter O’Mahony with a warning. Keatley had kicked a penalty on 19 minutes but Biggar’s brace gave the Ospreys a 16-10 advantage heading towards the interval.

The home side were fortunately to escape when flanker Ryan Jones had a fresh air in trying to kick clear a few metres from his own line but the Irish province turned over possession at a ruck soon after. The Ospreys struck again in first half injury time. Munster lost the ball in the Welsh side’s 22, Osprey’s fullback Richard Fussell accelerated between two tacklers to race clear.

Simon Zebo slipped as he came across, Fussell found number eight Joe Bearman in support and the number eight sent scrumhalf Kahn Fotuali’i scampering over for a try. Biggar posted the conversion to give his side a 23-10 half-time lead.

Thinks didn’t get much better for the visitors after the interval as the home side played with great vision, width, pace and authority in defence. Biggar tagged on another penalty before wing Hanno Dirksen profited from some good hands to race down the touchline and score in the corner.

Biggar missed the conversion but he was afforded much easier opportunities as the Ospreys cut loose at will, shredding the Munster defence – facilitated by some weak tackling – on 62 and 70 minutes with tries from centre Andrew Bishop and replacement scrumhalf Rhys Webb. The latter’s taunting celebration is something that Munster won’t easily forget on what was becoming an increasingly torrid night.