Munster bounce back from Cheetahs defeat with bonus-point win in Cork
Arno Botha gets over in the final minute to seal the fifth point for Johann van Graan’s side
Munster’s James Cronin scores his side’s first try during the Guinness Pro 14 game against the Ospreys. photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho
Munster 28 Ospreys 12
Munster bounced back from their loss to the Cheetahs in South Africa to chalk up their third win of the Pro 14 campaign with a hard-earned win at Musgrave Park in Cork.
They had to wait until the final minute before they secured the bonus point but they maintained their composure and Arno Botha drove over to seal a fine win.
Ospreys coach Allen Clarke knew that his side, hammered 53-5 by Leinster and 38-14 by Ulster on their two visits to Ireland so far this season, needed to improve their defence to have any chance of getting their first win over Munster since 2016.
These two sides will be much changed when they meet next month in the Champions Cup, but this was a chance for others to stake a claim for places when the World Cup players return.
The only try of the opening half came from Munster loosehead James Cronin who finished off a good move by the impressive Mike Haley and Dan Goggin to score and continue the form which saw him hit a hat-trick for Highlfield last week.
Tyler Bleyendaal slotted the conversion to get Munster up and running after 17 minutes on a wet night in Cork where handling was difficult.
Both sides squandered early penalties to the corners, while Haley needed to be sharp to get back and avert the danger after a Bleyendaal kick in midfield was charged down.
Ospreys failed to make the most of the resultant five-metre scrum but outhalf Luke Price got them off the mark seven minutes from the break with a penalty after Jack O’Donoghue was penalised for a high tackle.
Boosted by that score, Ospreys pressed forward and when Munster were pinged on their own scrum, Price cut the gap to the minimum a minute from the break.
There was still time for Bleyendaal to send a superb penalty to the left corner but Ospreys defended their line superbly and went in trailing 6-7.
Munster wasted little time after the restart in getting on top and a yellow card for flanker Sam Cross for knocking the ball out of Neil Cronin’s hands under the posts was decisive.
Munster hooker Rhys Marshall tapped to drive over and while Price pulled back a penalty for the Welsh, another good move by Johann van Graan’s men saw the impressive Haley raced through to score with Bleyendaal’s conversion making it 21-9 after 50 minutes.
Price landed another penalty for Ospreys but as they pushed forward in search of a bonus point, the impressive Haley countered and from that possession Botha had the power to get over and wrap up all five points.
MUNSTER: M Haley; C Nash, D Goggin, R Scannell, S Daly; T Bleyendaal, N Cronin; J Cronin, R Marshall, S Archer; J Holloway, B Holland; J O’Donoghue, T O’Donnell, J O’Sullivan.
Replacements: F Wycherley for Holloway (51 mins), L O’Connor for J Cronin (56), A Botha for O’Sullivan (58), K O’Byrne for Marshall, JJ Hanrahan for Bleyendaal (both 60), J Loughman for Archer), C Casey for N Cronin (both 69), S Arnold for Goggin (75).
OSPREYS: C Evans; H Dirksen, S Williams, T Thomas-Wheeler, T Williams; L Price, M Aubrey; R Jones, S Parry, T Botha; D Lydiate, L Ashley; O Cracknell, S Cross, G Evans.
Replacements: M Fia for Botha (9 mins), D Baker for G Evans (12, HIA), G Evans for Baker (22), W Griffiths for Cross (53), S Otten for Parry, G Thomas for Jones, D Baker for G Evans (all 60), L Klim for T Williams (62), R Morgan-Williams for Aubrey, J Hook for (both 69.
Referee: Stuart Berry (SARU).