By Simon Lewis, Thomond Park
Munster boss Rassie Erasmus hailed departing Donnacha Ryan as “10 times more a Munster man than I'll ever be” after the Ireland lock helped his native province reach next week's Guinness Pro12 final today.
The Ospreys failed to make next Saturday's league decider an all-Welsh affair following Scarlets' brilliant away win at Leinster on Friday night but they could hardly complain after Munster made them pay for some sloppy attacking play with some clinical finishing.
It means both Ryan and Francis Saili, whose departures from Munster at the end of the season were announced on Friday, will have one last game for the province, at Dublin's Aviva Stadium next Saturday. And both signed off from Thomond Park in style as the Ospreys were beaten by three tries to nil in Limerick, All Black Saili earning man of the match honours having scored the opening try and played a part in Munster's scintillating second, scored by Simon Zebo in the 61st minute when the game was finely balanced at 8-3 to the home side.
Tipperary-born lock Ryan will join Racing 92 in Paris this summer having turned down a Munster contract offered to him after his central IRFU contract was not renewed while Saili will exit at the end of his two-year deal, with Erasmus having to choose between the New Zealand and South African centre Jaco Taute as his midfield overseas signing for next season.
The director of rugby was delighted both received a fitting send-off at home.
"It's nice but it's also emotional,” Erasmus said. “It's tough calls and decisions to make. Donnacha has been here for years, he's 10 times more a Munster man than I will ever be.
"Frankie has done wonderfully in the two years he has been here and he wanted to stay. It's a tough decision that we have to make but just look at the last tackle he made (to deny a Keelan Giles try on 80 minutes). It shows what he feels for the club.
"Luckily, he is mature about it, he wants to finish on a high with the club. He's excited about next week. But it's sad, it's sad to lose guys like that. We wanted to keep him."
"You can say it's between (Saili and Taute) but there's a few things more that play a role. The fact that Jaco can play 15 for us as well, cover there, and obviously the financial impact - it wasn't really between the two of them.
"Some people you can afford, other people you can't afford. It's one of those things, and you can only have so many foreigners. Otherwise, Irish rugby would be dead when it comes to the national team.
"So it's a tough decision but we have to make a few decisions around affordability, quality and all of those kind things, but it was really tough."
Munster captain Peter O'Mahony added: “It's nice to be able to send them off from Thomond Park, they have another one to go for us.
“But Donners has been an incredible servant to the club and the country, and it's nice to be able to have our fans give him a good round of applause because he deserves nothing more.
“Obviously Frankie has been through a lot here and come into unbelievable form. He was unbelievable last year for us when we struggled and he had a couple of knocks and he has come into some fabulous form the last couple of months.
“He's a gamebreaker and a game changer, and he did that today, he was very classy. It's nice to be able to send him off on a nice one, but we obviously have a big one to go."