MUNSTER are back on the summit of the RaboDirect PRO12 after a hard-earned 12-6 victory over the Ospreys in their dour top-of-the-table clash at Thomond Park before 14,216 spectators.
Out-half Ian Keatley kicked three penalty goals and replacement JJ Hanrahan added a fourth in the final quarter to help Munster move one-point clear of the Glasgow Warriors in the PRO12 table ahead of the November break.
This was Munster’s first win against their Welsh opponents in six meetings since 2011 and means Rob Penney’s men have won six of their first seven RaboDirect games.
Conditions may not have been ideal with a couple of heavy showers and a strong wind, but not even the poor weather could be blamed for the stop-start nature of the play. Frequent handling errors and the regular re-setting of scrums only added to the supporters sense of frustration.
Munster led 6-3 at half-time, with Ian Keatley landing two penalty goals to one from the Ospreys Matthew Morgan.
Neither try-line was tested until late on in the opening half when Ivan Dineen stepped inside Andrew Bishop’s tackle to seemingly score to the left of the posts. However, Dineen’s effort was ruled out as the TMO ruled that the preceding Ospreys scrum, which saw the ball squirt out of the tunnel and into Duncan Williams’ grasp, had not been completed.
The Welsh region also came close to striking a crucial blow in the second half when Tito Tabaldi crossed the try line, but after it was again referred to the TMO, the score was ruled out.
While Keatley missed from the kicking tee on 52 minutes, he succeeded four minutes later, stretching Munster’s lead to 9-3.
Replacement Hanrahan then nudged Munster 12-3 ahead with a penalty in the 68th minute.
Ospreys out-half Morgan could have reduced the gap further but he connected poorly with a penalty attempt with ten minutes left on the clock and then missed with a drop goal with two minutes to go. But with the last kick of the match Morgan finally succeeded, kicking a penalty to earn the Ospreys a losing bonus point from a 12-6 defeat.
SCORERS – Munster: Ian Keatley three pens, JJ Hanrahan pen. Ospreys: Matthew Morgan two pens.
MUNSTER – Felix Jones; Johne Murphy, Casey Laulala, Ivan Dineen, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Damien Varley (capt), BJ Botha, Donncha O’Callaghan, David Foley, David O’Callaghan, Sean Dougall, CJ Stander. Replacements used: John Ryan, James Crnin, Billy Holland, James Coughlan, Cathal Sheridan, JJ Hanrahan,
OSPREYS – Richard Fussell; Aisea Natoga, Jonathan Spratt (capt), Andrew Bishop, Ben John; Matthew Morgan, Tito Tebaldi; Marc Thomas, Scott Baldwin, Joe Rees, Lloyd Peers, James King, Joe Bearman, Sam Lewis, Morgan Allen. Replacements used: Nicky Smith, Dan Suter, Rhodri Hughes, Tom Habberfield, Sam Davies, Hanno Dirksen.
REFEREE – Giuseppe Vivarini (Italy)