Munster still outside the top four after Ospreys draw

Munster still remain six points off the playoff places in the RaboDirect PRO12 after a 13-13 draw with the Ospreys in Thomond Park on Saturday night.

Munster still remain six points off the playoff places in the RaboDirect PRO12 after a 13-13 draw with the Ospreys in Thomond Park on Saturday night.

This was an improvement on the inept showing in Treviso six days earlier, for sure, but Munster’s latest display, albeit against higher quality opposition, wasn’t convincing either.

In the end, Munster had to settle for a share of the spoils with the resolute Ospreys at Thomond Park on Saturday night. The result leaves Rob Penney’s men in sixth place in the RaboDirect PRO12 table and facing an uphill battle to make the play-offs. Munster lie seven points off a top four spot with just five series of games to come.

Next up is a tricky home tie against an improving Connacht outfit at Musgrave Park on Saturday, March 23 at 5.45pm. As Munster are set to be without their starting Irish internationals for the game, Connacht will arrive in Cork sniffing an upset. Little margin for error for the home side, then.

There was no shortage of vim, vigour, industry and endeavour from Munster at Thomond Park on Saturday night. The side played with an intensity and physicality which had been sadly lacking against Treviso a week earlier. But Munster lacked a bit of craft, guile and accuracy for much of this contest. There were simply too many mistakes.

The Ospreys capitalised on the sin-binning of prop Stephen Archer in the third, crossing for the converted try which tied the scores at 13-13 when Munster were down to 14. Munster’s try came courtesy of hooker, Damien Varley.

Of course, there were positives. Promising UL-Bohs scrum-half Cathal Sheridan turned in an eye-catching display on his first start at this level, while his clubmate Dave Kilcoyne was very prominent in the loose, making some serious carries. Out-half Ronan O’Gara turned in a solid display, while the scrum was solid all through.

Head coach, Rob Penney was coy about the side’s prospects of making the play-offs.

Penney said: “You do the maths. I am no good at maths. Who knows? I had all of this thrown at me when we were vying for the Heineken Cup. Who knows? I don’t have a crystal ball.”

SCORERS – Munster: Damien Varley try, Ronan O’Gara two pens, one con. Ospreys: Jonathan Thomas try, Matthew Morgan two pens, one con

MUNSTER – Felix Jones; Doug Howlett (capt), Casey Laulala, James Downey, Denis Hurley; Ronan O’Gara, Cathal Sheridan; David Kilcoyne, Damien Varley, Stephen Archer, Ian Nagle, Billy Holland, Paddy Butler, Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan. Replacements: Duncan Williams for Sheridan, Mike Sherry for Varley (both 60 mins), BJ Botha for Archer, Dave Foley for Nagle (both 61 mins), Wian du Preez for Kilcoyne (63 mins), Ian Keatley for Jones (71 mins),

OSPREYS – Richard Fussell; Tom Habberfield, Jonathan Spratt, Ashley Beck, Tom Isaacs; Matthew Morgan, Kahn Fotuali’i; Duncan Jones, Scott Baldwin, Cai Griffiths, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Lloyd Peers, James King, Sam Lewis, Jonathan Thomas. Replacements: Marc Thomas for D Jones (56 mins), Dimitri Arhip for Isaacs (60 mins).

REFEREE – Nigel Owens (Wales)