Ospreys overpower lacklustre Munster

Neath-Swansea Ospreys 34 Munster 17

The one glimpse of hope was provided, however, by the opportunism of Christian Cullen, who scored twice late on to almost single-handedly salvage the game.

But even the All Black great could not compensate for a lacklustre display from an albeit second-string Munster side as the Ospreys replied with four tries of their own.

The game got off to a cautious start at St Helen’s with two sides well overdue to make an impact in the competition after poor form last term.

Yet, the contrast in their approach was reflected in the players on the field, Munster missing no fewer than 11 internationals, while the Ospreys had insisted on playing their stars despite the wishes of the Welsh management. One of those names at the vcentre of the disagreement was the prodigious young talent of Gavin Henson, who showed early on why the Ospreys were so eager to play him.

His powerful break in midfield was halted illegally by Jerry Flannery’s boot and duly punished by that of Henson.

That break in the deadlock saw the game break into life, though sadly for Munster, their defence failed to step up in pace as two Ospreys players lived up their names.

Some nifty footwork from Elvis Sevalai’i saw him past blood replacement Jason Holland with ease before Jason Spice added the finishing touch to score.

Just minutes later and Munster were all at odds again. The onrushing Ospreys defence forced ex-Neath centre James Storey into a rash pass that was punished by opposite number David Bishop for 20-0 half-time lead.

Despite the loss of Flannery to the sin bin for punching, Burke struck a penalty before Cullen picked Henson’s pocket to close the gap ever further on 68 minutes. However, Munster’s increasingly creaky defence finally succumbed to the arrival of fresh legs as first Adrian Durston and then Lyndon Bateman went over either side of Cullen’s second from a Holland chip.

Scorers: Ospreys: Tries - J Spice, D Bishop, A Durston, L Bateman. Cons - G Henson (4). Pens - G henson (2). Munster: Tries - C Cullen (2). Cons - P Burke (2). Pen - P Burke.

OSPREYS: G Henson; S Terblanche, D Bishop, E Sevali'i (S Parker, 59), S Williams (A Durston, 65); M Jones (A Williams, 76), J Spice; P James, B Williams (capt), A Millward (D Jones, 78), A Newman (B Cockbain, 63), L Bateman, J Thomas, R Jones, R Pugh.

MUNSTER: C Cullen; S Payne, M Mullins, J Storey (J Holland, 59), A Horgan; P Burke (J Holland, 33-H-T), M Prendergast; F Roche, J Flannery, G McIlwham, S O'Connor, T Hogan, S Keogh (J Blaney, 40-50), J Williams (capt), D Leamy.

Referee: R Dickson (Scotland).

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