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Liberty Test

September 29, 2012 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

After home defeats to Ulster and Glasgow the Ospreys owe their fans a performance according to assistant coach Gruff Rees and tonight they hope to turn the boos that echoed round the stadium after that Glasgow defeat into noises more befitting tittle holders.

Ospreys eventually got their season up and running with a 23-16 win in Parc Y Scarlets, an impressive feat in itself but even more so considering Scarlets went into that game unbeaten yet required a last gasp try to secure a losing bonus.

Former Welsh captain Ryan Jones scored a try on his re-appearance from the bench last weekend and tight-head Adam, named on the bench, is set to make his first appearance of the season after shaking off a knee problem.
 
Ryan Bevington, wins his 50th cap which means Duncan Jones has to be satisfied with a place among the replacements while another front rower, Richard Hibbard makes his 100th appearance, and so ensures that Munster's front three, Wian du Preez, Mike Sherry and Stephen Archer will be given a thorough examination.

Given the ethos of the respective sides and the array of talent that will be on view, there is the expectation of a real cracker. Players on both sides will be looking to lay down a marker with European fare, not to mention November internationals, and expect a game that will be played at pace and with a huge physical intensity.

Munster: D Hurley; D Howlett (capt), K Earls, C Laulala, S Zebo, R O'Gara, C Murray; W Du Preez, M Sherry, S Archer; D O'Callaghan, B Holland; T O'Donnell, N Ronan, P Butler. Replacements: D Varley, D Kilcoyne, BJ Botha, D Ryan, P O'Mahony, P Stringer, I Keatley, J Downey.

Ospreys: R Fussell; H Dirksen, A Bishop, A Beck, T Isaacs; D Biggar, K Fotuali'I; R Bevington, R Hibbard, A Jarvis; A Wyn Jones (capt), I Evans; R Jones, J Tipuric, J Bearman. Replacements: S Baldwin, D Jones, A Jones, J Thomas, G Stowers, R Webb, M Morgan, R Jones.

Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU).

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Little Consolation In Liberty Loss

September 30, 2012 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

As morale boosters go, Munster’s performance in their 30-15 defeat at the Liberty Stadium, couldn’t have come at a less opportune time given the sort of fare they face in the coming weeks.

First up it's Leinster in Dublin next Saturday then it's off to Paris to face Racing Metro in the Heineken Cup followed by Michael Bradley's Edinburgh the week after.

And following this game in Swansea, there'll be few under any illusions in the Munster camp about the seismic improvement in performance that's required.

They lost Conor Murray early on with a blood injury and his return lasted all of a minute before he departed again for the duration, Peter Stringer taking his place.

They played almost half the second half with fourteen players but all in all those issues cannot really excuse the paucity of their overall display.

They found themselves playing catch up right from the moment Dan Biggar kicked the Ospreys into an 11th minute 3 point lead. And they were a further ten points behind after Biggar had added a second penalty and converted Richard Fussell's 20th minute try.

That try came after Munster had turned over possession on the opposite side, Peter Stringer's attempted clearance half blocked with the home capitalising fully.

But Munster showed plenty of signs that they were well capable of playing the catch up game and the pressure they exerted was turned into points thanks to the trusty right boot of Ronan O'Gara.

He landed penalties in the 21st and 39th minutes and his third just after half time had the visitors snapping at the Ospreys heels.

However, then Tommy O'Donnell was yellow carded and Ospreys scored a penalty try to put themselves 14 points clear and even though O'Gara landed his fourth successful effort moments later the outcome looked to be decided.

And it should have been put beyond any doubt in the 62nd minute when Munster turned over possession inside the Ospreys 22 for Fusssell to set off for the Munster line and what looked a sure-fire seven pointer until Keith Earls arrived from the next parish to haul the full back down inside the 22.

In the 67th minute after Ospreys laid siege on the left, the space out wide was created and nobody managed to lay a glove on Richard Hibbard who crashed over for the try that crushed all hope of a Munster revival.

They lost Damien Varley (red card) with eight minutes of normal time remaining and probably deserve rich praise for denying the Ospreys the bonus for the fourth try they so desperately sought.

So, not the outcome and certainly not the performance Rob Penney was looking for as his side heads into the Leinster prelude to the Heineken Cup. And afterwards he was typically fortright in his assessment of the performance. “We didn't bring anything. For some reason we were flat. We lacked the intensity, the physicality we've had the last few weeks. Ospreys did bloody well and beat us up a bit. It's just another step along the learning path.  “

Munster: D Hurley; D Howlett capt, K Earls, C Laulala, S Zebo (J Downey 70 mins); R O'Gara (I Keatley 58 min), C Murray ( P Stringer 9 & 13 min); W Du Preez (D Kilcoyne 54 mins), M Sherry (D Varley 54 mins), S Archer (BJ Botha 54 mins); Donncha O'Callaghan, Billy Holland (D Ryan 54 min); T O'Donnell, N Ronan, P Butler (P O'Mahony 54 mins).

Ospreys: R Fussell; H Dirksen, A Bishop, A Beck, T Isaacs; D Biggar, K Fotuali'I; R Bevington, R Hibbard, A Jarvis; A Wyn Jones (capt), I Evans; R Jones, J Tipuric, J Bearman. Replacements: S Baldwin, D Jones, A Jones, J Thomas, G Stowers, R Webb, M Morgan, R Jones.

Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU).

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