Horgan maintains Munster's perfect start

Munster 37 Ospreys 10

Now, they're up and running after a second successive victory; this one over Neath/Swansea Ospreys being much more convincing than the first against Borders.

At Musgrave Park on Saturday, a four try-haul yielded an important bonus point, something described by man of the match Anthony Horgan as a crucial return from home games. Munster, therefore, have set themselves lofty targets, even in the midst of what could be described as an experimental period.

In the space of a week, the Munster coach Declan Kidney has made big decisions in opting to give big flankers David Wallace and Denis Leamy game time out of position.

Wallace was restored to the back row for this game, while Leamy partnered Trevor Halstead in the middle of the pitch. The jury is still out on that combination, but Leamy certainly didn't embarrass himself or the coach.

Defensively, Leamy was rock solid and two sniping dummy runs helped create tries as Munster put the game out of sight in a sparkling eight minutes spell before half time.

Munster have every reason to feel pleased with the performance, even allowing for the fact that the Ospreys fielded a below full-strength side - the cross they must bear for their involvement in the Anglo Welsh Cup.

You got the feeling Ospreys coach Lyn Jones now regrets the WRU decision to extend the hand across the border. The price for that involvement is that Welsh regions have to pack in Celtic League games in the early part of the season, as he explained.

"We're short the players that toured with the Lions in any event, but we can't expect players to play twice a week; hence the decision to keep some guys back for a midweek game against the Dragons."

But Jones paid tribute to Munster for the performance. "They were up for it. They exploited a couple of weak areas and we can't have any complaints about the outcome."

Still, Kidney is under no illusions. "It's nice to be at the top of the table, but it's very early days yet. Teams win matches, squads win leagues and we'll continue to use our squad to the best of our ability in the coming weeks."

The positives far outweighed any negatives on Saturday; the only blip coming four minutes into injury time when Munster conceded a try.

"We were pretty annoyed with that," admitted Horgan. "We did all the hard work in those last couple of minutes but then let them slip through for the score," he said.

Munster's Achilles heel has always been pace out wide, but that was not apparent as Horgan blitzed the Ospreys defence with two marvellous tries, the second coming straight from a training manual and he expertly created a third for John Kelly. Shaun Payne's fourth try was a by-product of quick thinking and a fair amount of acceleration as well.

Remarkably, the Ospreys led briefly, after Matthew Jones kicked a fourth minute penalty, and the sides were level right up to the 23rd minute after Paul Burke had equalised.

Then Horgan set the scene for a comprehensive win with tries in a five minutes spell. Kelly added his in the 32nd minute and Burke kicked all three conversions and a penalty to leave Munster in control at 27-3.

Despite total dominance, Munster struggled for scores in the second half. Burke kicked another penalty before Payne secured the bonus point in 70 minutes with a try that substitute Jeremy Manning converted.

Although Barry Williams sneaked over for an injury time try that Shaun Connor converted, the Ospreys won't take much consolation from it. Their night of woe was highlighted by a serious injury (broken kneecap) to centre David Bishop.

Munster were further boosted by the news that defensive coach Graham Steadman, wanted by the national side, will be staying at least until January.

MUNSTER: S. Payne, J. Kelly, T. Halstead, D. Leamy, A. Horgan, P. Burke, P. Stringer, M. Horan, F. Sheahan, F. Pucciariello, T. Hogan, M. O'Driscoll, A. Quinlan, A. Foley (captain), D. Wallace.

Replacements: J. Manning for Burke (61), R. Henderson for Foley (70), S. Keogh for O'Driscoll, F. Murphy for Stringer (both 72), F. Roche for Pucciariello, D. Fogarty for Sheahan (both 77).

OSPREYS: S. Terblanche, R. Mustoe, D. Bishop, L. Davies, J. Vaughton, M. Jones, R. Rees, P. James, B. Williams (captain), A. Millward, B. Cockbain, L. Bateman, L. Beach, A. Lloyd, R. Pugh.

Replacements: A. Jones for Millward, I. Evans for Bateman, S. Connor for M. Jones (all 50), S. Parker for Bishop (injured, 53), A. Wyn Jones for Lloyd (65)

Referee: D. Changleng (Scotland).

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