Ospreys 18 Munster 10
Munster were made to pay for a lacklustre performance as they were beaten by an understrength Ospreys side in Swansea.
This was Johann van Graan’s sides first defeat of the United Rugby Championship season, and the Ospreys were full value for the win. Munster were taken apart at scrum time, while the Ospreys held the upper hand physically. They were ultimately undone by the boot of veteran outhalf Stephen Myler who kicked all 18 of his side’s points.
Due to the Welsh Rugby Union’s insistence of scheduling at least one Test match outside of World Rugby’s designated international window each autumn, the Ospreys were without their Wales contingent.
Munster on the other hand had the majority of their Ireland internationals playing with Van Graan having made eight changes from the side which scraped home against Connacht last weekend.
Outhalf Jack Crowley made his first Munster start as Matt Gallagher, Liam Coombes, Dan Goggin, and Shane Daly came into the backline. Jeremy Loughman, Fineen Wicherley, and Jack O’Donoghue came in to strengthen the pack while Tadhg Beirne and Peter O’Mahony also starting.
Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray started on the replacements bench along with South African World Cup-winning centre Damian De Allende.
Munster made a poor start getting penalised for holding on at the breakdown which allowed Myler to open the scoring with the simplest of penalties. But Munster hit back immediately with Crowley knocking over three points.
Munster looked to be the stronger of the two sides and were more efficient in the contact area, but unlike the Scarlets a fortnight ago they found the Ospreys defence a tougher nut to crack. The visitors had a driving lineout try disallowed with tighthead prop John Ryan caught offside.
Munster’s pack enjoyed more territory and possession in the opening half, but the Ospreys harassed them into making errors, with young openside flanker Jac Morgan their standout player. Morgan’s charge into the towards the Munster tryline forced the visitors to cynically kill the ball at the breakdown which resulted in Myler kicking the hosts into the lead.
The Ospreys scrum began to win the upper hand and they forced Munster to fold and concede a penalty which Myler kicked from 45 metres out on an angle. Such was the Ospreys’ scrum dominance one of their more vocal supporters shouted out “take a bow Duncan Jones” in recognition of the former Wales prop’s work as forwards coach is having a profound effect on his pack.
One player who did real damage to the Munster scrum was loosehead prop Nicky Smith who had a point to prove after being a shock omission from Wayne Pivac’s Wales squad for the upcoming autumn internationals. After a promising start to the game Munster turned around 9-3 behind on the scoreboard.
Munster made a sloppy start to the second half conceding a penalty for a high tackle and spilling the ball twice within the first five minutes. And they conceded another penalty at the scrum which allowed Myler to make it a two-score game with another successful kick from 45 metres out.
The Ospreys had the bit between their teeth and were pushing for their first try but Ireland loose forward Beirne denied them with an excellent turnover. And Munster hit back with a powerful driving lineout, which included 13 of their players, with scrumhalf Craig Casey claiming the try. Crowley added the extras to make it a two-point game. Munster introduced the likes of De Allende and Murray to proceedings but the Ospreys pack refused to lie down with Myler kicking a further two penalties to seal the victory for the hosts.
OSPREYS: M Nagy; A Cuthbert, O Watkin, K Williams, M Protheroe; S Myler, R Webb; N Smith, E Taione, T Botha; B Davies, R Davies; S Cross, J Morgan, E Roots.
Replacements: D Evans for Protheroe (46 mins), M Morris for Roots (58), G Thomas for Smith, R Henry for Botha (both 61), I Phillips for Taione (66), J Regan for Cross (68), R Morgan-Williams for Webb (71), J Hawkins for Williams (74) .
MUNSTER: M Gallagher; A Conway, L Coombes, D Goggin, S Daly; J Crowley, C Casey; J Loughman, N Scannell, J Ryan; J Kleyn, F Wycherley; T Beirne, P O’Mahony, J O’Donoghue