Costly slip for Munster

Munster 17 Ospreys 21: Munster’s hopes of making the knock out stages of the Guinness Pro12 suffered a big blow at Musgrave Park last night as the Ospreys produced a dogged performance to deservedly emerge with the points from an exciting but error-strewn game.

It will be of little consolation to Munster that they picked up a losing bonus point – it has been the stated aim of head coach Anthony Foley’s that home wins are an absolute necessity. Munster scored three tries and came close to getting one or two more, but they paid a heavy price for handling errors and the concession of too many penalties in a disappointing second half display.

It was no surprise that Ospreys out half Sam Davies won the man of the match award for he contributed 16 points with a try, conversion and three penalties from his side’s total as well as giving the scoring pass for a second and ultimately crucial try.

Munster remain in sixth place and closed the gap on Edinburgh courtesy of that bonus point, but they will be looking more anxiously at the sides beneath them, Ospreys who are now just three points adrift and Glasgow Warriors with a game in hand are seven points behind the Irish province.

Munster travel to Glasgow on Friday and will need a win to ease their troubles, but the five-day turnaround will be tough, acknowledged Foley. “What we now have to do is get the boys recovered both physically and it’s a bit more difficult in that we’re playing 4G pitch.”

Foley bemoaned his side’s inability to build on a 17-10 lead established after 51 minutes. “That was disappointing, I thought we would kick on from Robin’s try,” he said.

Munster took the lead on 12 minutes when scrum half Duncan Williams scampered away for a try at the posts after he charged down Brendon Leonard’s attempted box kick. Keatley converted.

Munster were both unlucky and lucky in the middle of the half when they were foiled of a try courtesy of an interception from Tom Grabham. The winger made 70 metres but was trailed and nailed by Darren Sweetnam who put an end to the threat with a brilliantly timed and executed tackle.

Yet they couldn’t survive a spell of subsequent Ospreys pressure and Davies responded with a seven pointer to level the match.

The visitors were rocked back two minutes later when Dave Kilcoyne set up a counter-attack and Francis Saili brilliantly wrong-footed and out paced the defence for a wonderful unconverted individual try, but Davies had the last say of the half with a penalty, 12-10 to Munster at the break.

The crowd rose to Munster’s third try after 51 minutes scored by Robin Copeland, the architect of which was Sweetnam after an assist from Williams, but persistence paid off for the visitors and Davies kicked his third penalty four minutes later to reduce Munster’s lead to four points.

He struck an upright with another but then gave a scoring pass to substitute Owen Watkin to leave his side leading 18-17 at the three quarter stage before knocking over another two minutes from the end to secure the win.

MUNSTER:

A Conway; D Sweetnam, F Saili, R Scannell, R O’Mahony; I Keatley, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, J Ryan; D Foley, M Chisholm; B Holland (captain), J O’Donoghue, R Copeland.

Replacements:

N Scannell for Sherry (54), S Buckley for Chisholm (61), T O’Leary for Williams, M Sagario for Ryan (both 70).

OSPREYS:

D Evans; T Grabham, JJ Engelbrecht, J Matavesi, B John; S Davies, B Leonard (captain); N Smith, S Parry, D Arhip; R Bernardo, R Thornton; J Bearman, S Underhill, D Baker.

Replacements:

M Fia for Arhip (9, injured ), O Watkin for Matavesi (44), R Webb for Leonard (52), G Thomas for Smith (54), S Otten for Parry (64), A Beard for Bernardo (70), T Habberfield for Webb (79, injured).

Referee:

L Hodges (Wales)

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