Beirne man of the match in Munster comeback

Ireland secondrow plays all 80 minutes in narrow Pro14 victory

 Mike Haley of Munster scores his side’s third try. Photo: Alex Davidson/Inpho

Mike Haley of Munster scores his side’s third try. Photo: Alex Davidson/Inpho

 

Ospreys 13 Munster 19

Munster edged to victory over a resilient Ospreys side at the Liberty Stadium as Ireland second row Tadhg Beirne returned from injury to hand Joe Schmidt a Six Nations injury boost.

Johann van Graan’s men remain top of Conference A in the Guinness Pro14, but they were made to work for every inch of their victory as they scored through Darren Sweetnam, a penalty try and Mike Haley.

The long-term future of the Ospreys remains very much in doubt given the continuing financial uncertainty in Welsh rugby and they played as if their lives depended on it in Swansea.

The home side’s try came from Hanno Dirksen with Luke Price kicking the rest of their points.

The return of Beirne added to Munster’s satisfaction - he played the full 80 minute and was man of the match - for the first time since January 21st following a knee injury.

Munster dominated territory in the opening half an hour, but they didn’t have a lead to show for it as the Ospreys stayed in the game despite seeing little of the ball.

The Irish province were nonetheless ahead within five minutes. Beirne ripped the ball for a turnover and JJ Hanrahan floated a long ball out to Sweetnam who was given the easiest of finishes.

Tadhg Beirne of Munster receives the man of the match award. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Inpho
Tadhg Beirne of Munster receives the man of the match award. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Inpho

Hanrahan converted, but Munster couldn’t pull clear and they were soon pegged back by a neat home try. Dan Evans linked with Keelan Giles and his kick ahead saw Dirksen collect to score.

The try was checked by the TMO to see whether Matthew Aubrey had been offside, but referee Stuart Berry decided there had been no infringement and Price kicked the goal.

That kick was followed by a long-range penalty effort from the Ospreys pivot which put the hosts in front for the first time. It didn’t last long.

Straight from the restart Munster’s powerful forwards took control as they smashed away at the line. Constant pressure forced home flanker Sam Cross to stop Beirne from scoring from an offside position and he was promptly yellow carded and a penalty try awarded.

The Ospreys were forced into changes for the second half with Rob McCusker and Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler replaced by Lloyd Ashley and James Hook. It remained a tight, tense battle.

Cross returned to the field with his team still only four points behind and the game was on a knife edge with Sweetnam the game’s real livewire in attack.

Munster did seem to be getting the rub of the green from Berry and the contact area was an absolute mess which didn’t help the flow of the game.

Price’s penalty made it a one-point game, but Munster did enough to win and they scored their third try when forward pressure saw the ball spread wide for Haley to finish.

Ospreys: Evans; Dirksen, Allen, Thomas-Wheeler, Giles; Price, Aubrey; Lay, Baldwin, Botha; King, Davies; Cracknell, Cross, McCusker. Replacements: Ashley for McCusker (40 mins) Hook for Thomas-Wheeler (41), Morgan-Williams for Aubrey (54), Fia for Botha (55), Jenkins for Lay, Otten for Baldwin, Morgan for Giles (all 64), Griffiths for Ashley (73).

Munster: Haley, Nash, Goggin, Taute, Sweetnam; Hanrahan, Cronin; Loughman, Marshall, Archer; Beirne, Holland; Wycherley, Cloete, Botha. Replacements: Mathewson for Cronin, Scannell for Taute (both 50 mins), Parker for Archer, O’Connor for Loughman (54), O’Byrne for Marshall (55), Johnston for Sweetnam (64), O’Donoghue for Wycherley, O’Shea for Botha (71 mins).

Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)

Attendance: 5,432

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