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Ospreys Intent On Maintaining Record

October 8, 2011 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Ospreys will not give Munster any more respect than they deserve when they attempt to maintain their unbeaten run in the RaboDirect PRO12 League game tonight at Thomond Park Stadium (7.30pm).

They remain the only side in the competition with a 100% record and have already beaten the other Irish provinces with Connacht giving them the sternest examination last time out.

“We don't put any teams on a pedestal,” said prop Cai Griffiths. “It's going to be hard wherever you go. Whether it's Glasgow or Connacht, everywhere is tough, so we won't put Munster on a pedestal.

And Griffiths and his pack colleagues reckon they have an idea where this game tonight will be decided.

“We know what they're going to bring, especially in the pack. We know it will be hard with their reputation and the crowd turning against us. Hopefully, we can bring more and get a good win out there. It's not easy whether you've won no games or five on the bounce, it's still a tough place to go to.”

Munster were disappointing in Edinburgh last weekend where they surrendered their unbeaten run rather tamely but a win tonight would offer a form of redemption and see them finish this phase of the competition as League leaders.

They bring Doug Howlett back onto the wing and that means Johne Murphy moves to full back while Duncan Williams starts ahead of Peter Stringer on this occasion.

Up front Tony McGahan continues his rotation policy that has served do well thus far and with BJ Botha back in consideration he gets a place on the bench ahead of John Hayes. Youngster Dave O'Callaghan gets his first start in a back-row that includes the experienced Niall Ronan with skipper Peter O'Mahony at number 8.

This is a huge game for the home side, one they'll desperately want to win but to do so they need to produce their best performance of the season to date.

Munster: J Murphy; D Howlett, D Barnes, L Mafi, D Hurley; I Keatley, D Williams; W du Preez, D Fogarty, S Archer; B Holland, M O'Driscoll; D O'Callaghan, N Ronan, P O'Mahony capt. Replacements: S Henry, M Horan, BJ Botha, I Nagle, T O'Donnell, P Stringer, S Deady, S Zebo.

Ospreys: B Davies; H Dirksen, T Isaacs, A Bishop, R Fussell; D Biggar, R Webb; D Jones, R Hibbard, C Griffiths; I Gough, I Evans; J Bearman, J Tipuric (Capt), J Thomas. Replacements: M Davies, A Jarvis, J Rees, T Smith, J King, M Morgan, S Parker, K Phillips.

Referee: James Jones (WRU).

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No Crumb Of Comfort In Losing Bonus

October 9, 2011 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

The losing bonus point Munster picked up for their 17-13 loss to Ospreys at Thomond Park Stadium will serve as very little comfort as they ended the first phase of the RaboDirect PRO12 League with a second successive defeat.

What it does do however is help keep them in second place in the table – on the same points as Leinster – albeit now six points off the pace. They led 10-6 at the break after Danny Barnes had given them the perfect start with a try after just two minutes when he blocked down an attempted clearance by Hanno Dirkson but after that whatever try scoring chances that came their way were fashioned by their pack.

The seminal moment came in the 56th minute when they led 10-9 and were battering the Ospreys line. Desperate defence kept their forward pack at bay and when they attempted to go wide with numbers stacked in their favour, Barry Davies intercepted, ran deep into Munster territory in a move that ended with a try from scrum-half Rhys Webb.

Dan Biggar missed the conversion but that score represented a ten point turnaround and the Ospreys defended, just as their National team had done against Ireland, with huge determination right till the end.

At times mind you they were clinging on by their fingertips. Never more so than with five minutes to go, when replacement Ian Nagle brilliantly picked off an Ospreys throw on their five metre line that, once again had Munster driving for the line. But once again the Welsh rearguard clung on and eventually cleared their lines.

It ended with a penalty awarded against Munster at scrum-time with Biggar stroking over the penalty from wide on the right under the East Stand.

The opening try came when Munster countered from inside their own 22, Johne Murphy accelerating up to half way, off-loading to Doug Howlett whose kick had Dirkson scrambling back into his 22 to retrieve. The wing delayed his clearance and Barnes was up to block, gather and score for Ian Keatley to add the extras with undue fuss.

Keatley and Biggar swopped penalties. They both also hit the uprights but Munster were having huge difficulty at scrum time, or rather referee James Jones was having huge difficulty with them at scrum time and as the penalties racked up, play became ragged.

Biggar closed the gap to four with a penalty on the stroke of half time and reduced the gap to a single point with a penalty shortly after the restart. By then Munster were down to 14 after Stephen Archer had been binned. Just after he returned Ospreys saw their number reduced when skipper Justin Tipuric saw yellow.

However, Keatley's penalty again struck an upright and shortly after that miss was made to look more costly when the decisive score arrived after Peter O'Mahoney and Mick O'Driscoll had led the assault on the Ospreys line.

There was plenty of time left for Munster to retrieve the situation, Keatley's 61st minute successful strike leaving the minimum separating the sides, and they came desperately close but credit to this Ospreys side for their tenacity and discipline that saw them survive the Munster onslaught and take the points, Biggar's kick in added time the final shot in what was a bruising encounter.

Afterwards Anthony Foley expressed his disappointment saying. “Not taking anything away from Ospreys but I think it was a game that was there for us. We probably needed to be a bit more precise at times. We had the opportunites but credit to them, their defence was excellent.”

Munster: J Murphy (S Zebo 70th min); D Howlett, D Barnes, L Mafi, D Hurley (S Deasy 74th min); I Keatley, D Williams (P Stringer 66th min); W du Preez (M Horan 61st min), D Fogarty, S Archer (BJ Botha 53rd min); B Holland (I Nagle 61st min), M O'Driscoll; D O'Callaghan, N Ronan (T O'Donnell temp), P O'Mahony capt. 
 
Ospreys: B Davies; H Dirksen, T Isaacs, A Bishop, R Fussell; D Biggar, R Webb; D Jones, R Hibbard, C Griffiths; I Gough, I Evans; J Bearman, J Tipuric capt, J Thomas. Replacements: M Davies, A Jarvis, J Rees, T Smith, J King, M Morgan, S Parker, K Phillips.
 
Referee: James Jones (WRU).

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