Varley rues ‘fatal’ errors

MUNSTER concede they have to step up ahead of the Heineken Cup double header with the Scarlets after falling victim to the Ospreys for the second time this season.

Tony McGahan’s charges led at the interval thanks to a Doug Howlett try and the boot of Ian Keatley. But the Ospreys, who were missing 19 players, stormed back in the second half, scoring tries through Richard Fussell and Rhys Webb, to complete a RaboDirect Pro12 double over the current champions.

Munster threw everything at the Welsh region in the final quarter and looked to force a penalty try following a succession of scrum resets. But Scottish official Peter Allan surprisingly penalised Munster with the Ospreys on the ropes.

Munster hooker Damien Varley admitted the decision was hard to accept but insisted the red army can only blame themselves for the loss.

“We’re very disappointed,” he said. “Our execution wasn’t good, we made fatal errors and a lot of decisions went against us particularly the last scrum.

“It’s tough to understand when you’re on top in that area as much as we were. But you have to cope with that and there were a few areas where we weren’t good enough.

“It’s easy to say we should have gone for goal with hindsight but we wanted the result and felt we could get the try – we were on top physically.

“We’re still very much in it. You’re not going to win the league on any given day. But we were coming over here with a view to putting in a performance a week before the Heineken Cup and we’re pretty disappointed.”

Matters were made worse for Munster when former All Black Doug Howlett limped off with a suspected Achilles injury.

McGahan expects the winger to be ruled out of next week’s crucial European clash with the Scarlets and admitted his side have to improve.

“It looks like an Achilles at the moment. We will have to wait and see and get it checked out properly but at this stage he’s a doubt for next week,” he said

“We play the Scarlets next and have to be better than that. They have been in tremendous form recently.

“They’re in fine form and it will be a really tough battle. They’re playing with real enthusiasm, they have a cutting edge to their back line and their forward pack has grown each week. They’re a formidable outfit and you don’t go to Northampton and get the bonus point without a lot of good attributes.”

Matthew Morgan handed the Ospreys an early lead at the Liberty Stadium after Keatley was twice off-target with the boot. But the Munster fly-half made amends and levelled the scores.

Munster surged into the lead shortly before the half-hour mark when Howlett pounced on Will Chambers ricocheted grubber kick following a strong break by Simon Zebo. Keatley added the extras before Morgan hit back to bring the scores to 10-6 at the interval.

But the Ospreys came flying out of the blocks following the restart and grabbed quick-fire tries thanks to Fussell and Webb. Ronan O’Gara and Morgan exchanged penalties before Munster laid siege to the Ospreys try-line in the closing stages. But they were unable to get over the line as the Welsh region hung on.

Scorers for Ospreys: Tries: R Fussell, R Webb. Pens: M Morgan (three).

Scorers for Munster: Try: D Howlet. Con: I Keatley. Pens: I Keatley, R O’Gara.

OSPREYS: B Davies, T Bowe, A Bishop, A Beck, R Fussell, M Morgan, R Webb; D Jones, R Hibbard, A Jarvis, I Gough, J Thomas, T Smith (capt), J King, J Bearman.

Replacements: H Dirksen for B Davies (47), C Griffiths for A Jarvis (47), M Davies for R Hibbard (56), T Isaacs forWebb (66).

MUNSTER: D Hurley, D Howlett, W Chambers, D Barnes, S Zebo, I Keatley, T O’Leary; M Horan, D Varley, BJ Botha, D O’Callaghan, D Ryan, D Leamy, N Ronan, P O’Mahony (capt).

Replacements: P O’Connell for D Ryan (46), R O’Gara for D Barnes (49), W du Preez for M Horan (49), C Murray for T O’Leary (60), J Coughlan for D Leamy (60), J Murphy for Howlett (inj. 77).

Referee: Peter Allan (SRU).

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