MUNSTER moved a point clear at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 after Rob Penney’s side ground out a hard-earned 12-6 victory over the Ospreys at Thomond Park on Saturday night. We rate how the Munster players fared in the top-of-the-table clash
Felix Jones 6
Jones returned at full-back after a slight ankle sprain ruled him out of the Glasgow game a week earlier. Improving with every competitive outing. Highly dependable defensively.
Johne Murphy 6
Moved to the right wing in place of the injured Andrew Conway. Constantly looking for work all through and solid defensively. Will be pleased with his run of form heading into the break for the autumn internationals.
Casey Laulala 6
Proved his value to his side by making his sixth start of the season and eighth appearance in all. Has built a solid partnership with Ivan Dineen when the pair have teamed up over the opening two months of the season.
Ivan Dineen 7
Eye-catching display from the young centre who was unfortunate to see a first half try chalked off after the TMO judged a scrum which had taken place in the lead-up to the score had not been completed properly. Made the most of his opportunity to impress with James Downey ruled out due to a back spasm.
Ronan O’Mahony 6
Exciting young winger O’Mahony was making his first competitive start at Thomond Park for Munster. The Garryowen clubman is sure to learn from the experience, including an error of judgment in the closing minutes when carrying the ball back over the endline.
Ian Keatley 7
On the back of JJ Hanrahan’s fine showing at 10 against the Warriors, Keatley will have been especially anxious to put on a good showing here. Controlled the game reasonably well in tricky playing conditions.
Duncan Williams 6
With Conor Murray in Irish camp, Williams was given the chance to start at scrum-half ahead of Cathal Sheridan. Produced a competent display in tricky playing conditions although will be disappointed to have thrown an intercept pass in the second half when Munster were attacking close to the Ospreys line.
Dave Kilcoyne 7
Prop Kilcoyne has earned glowing praise from his coach for how he has responded in both training and recent matches to the disappointment of being left out of Ireland’s squad for the autumn internationals. Turned in a powerful display in the Munster front row.
Damien Varley 8
Man of the Match display from the hooker who was given the honour of captaining Munster for the first time at Thomond Park. Varley, who turned 30 last week, was accurate with his line-out throwing and influential in the loose, making good yardage with his carries.
BJ Botha 6
Unfortunate to pick up a ‘stinger’ shoulder injury in the first half which resulted in Botha being replaced at half-time by John Ryan. Early indications are that the injury is not serious and the South African will be fine for Munster’s next fixture away to Cardiff on November 22.
Donncha O’Callaghan 7
Released from an Ireland training camp to start in Munster’s engine room. His experience, alongside the younger Dave Foley, proved invaluable in this highly competitive, top-of-the-table clash. Worked tirelessly.
Dave Foley 6
Foley has been plying his trade with the Munster A side in recent months. The 25-year-old was making his first appearance for the senior side since the end of September. Did a competent job in organising the Munster line-out.
Dave O’Callaghan 7
Another player who has been largely campaigning with the Munster A side this season. O’Callaghan was making only his second appearance for the senior side in the PRO12 this season and first since early September. Very influential in the loose, carrying the ball to good effect.
Sean Dougall 6
Twenty four-year-old Dougall was making his third successive start for Munster and the flanker can be pleased with his contribution here. Got through a lot of productive work at the breakdown and carried well when the opportunities arose.
CJ Stander 7
The South African is showing signs of benefitting from more regular game time in the side this season. Stander is a powerful ball carrier and continues to improve other aspects of his play. The battle for places in Munster’s back-row remains fierce, however.
John Ryan 6
Ryan was introduced for BJ Botha at half-time after the South African picked up a shoulder injury. Scrummaged well in an impressive Munster front row unit. Also made several eye-catching bursts with ball in hand.
Cathal Sheridan 7
Replaced Williams with just under half an hour to go and made the most of his opportunity. The speed and accuracy of Sheridan’s pass continues to impress. Will be hoping to tie down a replacements place on the bench for the crucial Heineken Cup fixtures with Perpignan in December.
James Coughlan 6
Released back from Ireland camp for the game and made a solid contribution when introduced for Dougall on the hour mark. Will hope to make Ireland’s match-day squad for next Saturday’s opening autumn international with Samoa.
JJ Hanrahan, James Cronin, Billy Holland
(Not on long enough to be rated)