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Ospreys Have Nothing To Fear ?

September 17, 2010 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Having done a Veni Vidi Vici back in April, Munster in Thomond Park Stadium, it would appear, hold no fear for Ospreys according to their full-back Lee Byrne.

“There are some games that you get up for a lot more than others but this is one that stands out on the calendar.” he told Rob Lloyd (South Wales Evening Post). “It's a game that all the boys are looking forward to. It's important for us to keep building and hopefully we can come away with a victory. It is going to be tough but we are building and hopefully we can replicate last season's victory.”

Ospreys completed a Magners League double over Munster with that 15-11 win last time and of course went on to win the title with victory over hot favourites Leinster in the RDS final and tomorrow's game will be the first of four scheduled meetings between the sides – three before Christmas.

However, the December games will be far from everyone's mind tomorrow according to Byrne. “We want to keep our performance levels up, especially away from home,” he said, “We're focused on league points. By the time we meet in December both sides will know a lot more about each other.”

And that's a theme Munster captain Denis Leamy continues. “December won't enter our minds at all. We've a few huge Magners League games coming up starting with this, then Glasgow and Leinster away. But they'll be dealt with, one at a time, once this is over.”

In terms of tomorrow's game Leamy feels Ospreys find themselves in an unusual situation. ” I suppose they'd have to consider themselves favourites. They won here last year, beat Leinster in the final and probably have their strongest side available. But that brings its own pressure so we'll see how they handle that.” he muses. “But they're a quality side, no question about that and always a very difficult side to play.”

Munster coach Tony McGahan makes just one change to his backline bringing in Tomas O'Leary in place of Peter Stringer. O'Leary replaced Stringer in the Edinburgh game in the 50th minute and he was followed on just two minutes later by Ronan O'Gara whose nerveless penalty snatched the win for Munster.

McGahan has resisted the obvious temptation to retain O'Gara who will doubtless be sprung from the bench once again but he does retain the front five that finished the Murrayfield game, Mick O'Driscoll ruled out with a back problem, with the same starting back-row, Leamy once again retaining the captain's armband  although it's expected that Alan Quinlan, winning his 200th cap, will lead the side out to what should be a raucous reception. 

Munster: F Jones; D Howlett, J Murphy, S Tuitupou, I Dowling; P Warwick, T O'Leary; M Horan, D Fogarty, J Hayes; D O'Callaghan, D Ryan; A Quinlan, N Ronan, D Leamy capt. Replacements: D Varley,W du Preez, T Buckley, B Holland,P O'Mahony, P Stringer, R O'Gara, D Barnes.

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Munster The More Focussed.

September 19, 2010 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

On a night when Alan Quinlan marked his 200th appearance in a Munster shirt with another superb performance, Munster maintained their 100% start to the Magners League campaign on a 22-10 scoreline in front of a near 16,000 audience.

On a night when conditions lended themselves to perfect rugby, supporters were treated to a disjointed first half that yielded just three points from the boot of Ronan O'Gara, a half totally dominated by the home side, but then progressed to a much different second where Munster, outscored 2 tries to 1, prevailed thanks to a dominant pack and a near flawless return from O'Gara's trusty right boot.

The Corkman who came into the fray as a 4th minute replacement for Ian Dowling missed his first two efforts – the second from distance had the direction but fell just short – but then kicked six from seven to ensure Munster gained full reward for their superiority in nearly every phase of the game.

Ospreys created very little. Tommy Bowe's try in the 44th minute as much due to the Monghan man's brilliance rather than any special creativity from his Welsh international teammates while Richard Fussell's arrived when it mattered little and when Munster had been reduced to 14 following a yellow card for Billy Holland.

Munster led 3-0 at break thanks to that O'Gara penalty in the 36th minute, the visitors never once threatening the Munster line. There was a greater accuracy in the Munster play from the restart and after a series of probing drives, they went wide and Warwick's pass took out the Ospreys defence for Howlett to score in the corner.

O'Gara kicked the conversion and although Bowe kept his side's hopes alive with a try two minutes later, three O'Gara penalties in an eight minute period put further daylight between the sides. The outhalf landed his fourth successive penalty in the 68th minute and lasp gasp defence kept the Ospreys out under the posts before Fussell got over in the corner.

Munster: F Jones (D Barnes 73 mins), D Howlett capt, J Murphy, S Tuitupou, I Dowling (R O'Gara 4 mins), P Warwick, T O'Leary (P Stringer 77 mins), M Horan (du Preez 49 mins), D Fogarty (Varley 28 mins), J Hayes (Buckley 42 mins), D O'Callaghan, D Ryan, A Quinlan (Holland 68 mins), N Ronan, J Coughlan (O'Mahony 66 mins).

Ospreys: L Byrne, N Walker, T Bowe, A Bishop, S Williams, D Biggar, J Nutbrown; P James, M Davies, C Mitchell, A W Jones (Capt), I Evans, J Collins, M Holah, J Thomas. Replacements: R Hibbard, D Jones, A Jones, B Lewis, R Webb, G Owen, R Fussell.

Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU).

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