Munster 33, Ospreys 0: Head coach Rassie Erasmus made a declaration of intent in last night’s match programme when he insisted Munster couldn’t afford to have a rollercoaster season.
“We want to stay up there,” he said in relation to his side’s fourth place position just three points adrift of the leading teams, Leinster, Ospreys, and Glasgow Warriors.
He could hardly have asked for a better start to this Guinness PRO12 clash at Musgrave Park when his fired-up side carried the game to Ospreys and scored two excellent tries inside 15 minutes.
Nor could he have asked for a better finish after watching Munster dominate the fourth quarter and add three tries to enhance their comprehensive win.
A bonus-point victory propelled them to the top of the league last night, at least temporarily, and the overall level of performance gave Erasmus and everyone associated with the squad a huge lift.
Ospreys came into the game with a scoring average of 37 points, with five bonus-point wins from seven games, but they were never allowed to play the free-flowing rugby that has marked their campaign to date.
They left defeated and deflated.
It was no wonder then that Munster got a standing ovation at the end of a mile-a-minute match after which Dave Kilcoyne deservedly won the man-of-the-match award, the prop proclaiming that it was crucial to stretch a winning run to three, a run that began with a the European victory over Glasgow in a difficult week following the death of Anthony Foley.
Kilcoyne paid tribute to the crowd again last night. “They really made a difference, they were brilliant, just brilliant,” he said.
Kilcoyne grabbed the first try after he surged past the defence after eight minutes and Tyler Bleyendaal knocked over the conversion from the right-hand touchline. Darren Sweetnam was sent in with a lovely flat pass from Duncan Williams at the same corner seven minutes later and the out half repeated the dose with his second successful kick.
Unable to cope with an aggressive Munster line-out and a clever aerial bombardment, Ospreys, missing a host of internationals, at least more than Munster, looked out of sorts as the capacity crowd of 8,200 got firmly behind the men in red.
One goalmouth scramble apart, Munster continued to dominate the first half but their search for further tries failed when they conceded two penalties and knocked on twice in attacking positions.
They started the second spell slowly, albeit still holding a territorial advantage, but they scored again and if anyone deserved the credit it was Ronan O’Mahony, the winger intercepting a sloppy pass, controlling possession with his foot before picking up and diving over for the score after 53 minutes.
The bonus-point victory was sealed in 69 minutes when the rampaging Kilcoyne picked up his second score and Bleyendaal added the conversion to bring Munster’s total to 26 and leave Ospreys scratching for attacking ideas.
Their night of woe continued as the clock ticked down when Robin Copeland got in for the fifth after workhorse Jack O’Donoghue was held up short from a five-metre scrum. Bleyendaal again kicked the conversion to stretch the lead out to 33 points.
A Conway; D Sweetnam, J Taute, R Scannell, R O’Mahony; T Bleyendaal, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, S Archer; D O’Shea, R Copeland; P O’Mahony (captain), T O’Donnell, J O’Donoghue.
I Keatley for Taute (33, inj), C Oliver for O’Donnell (61), R Marshall for Scannell (65), B Scott for Archer (69), A Wootton for R O’Mahony (70), P McCabe for Kilcoyne, J Madigan for P O’Mahony (both 72), A Griesel for Williams (74).
D Evans; K Giles, B John, A Beck, E Walker; J Matavesi, T Habberfield (captain); P James, S Parry, D Arhip; L Ashley, A Beard; R McCusker, O Cracknell, J Bearman.
M Fia for Arhip (46), G Thomas for James (53), J Spratt for Black (56), B Leonard for Habberfield (59), D Howells for John, S Otten for Bearman (both 61).Temporary. D Howells for Evans (33-40).
M Mitrea (Italy).
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