A mature and physical effort from the Ospreys kept their Heineken Cup season alive as they overcame Munster 19-15 at Liberty Stadium.
A mature and physical effort from the Ospreys kept their Heineken Cup season on its feet as they overcame Munster 19-15 at Liberty Stadium.
So often the bridesmaids of European rugby, the Welsh were hungry and found a great deal of joy at scrum-time on Saturday thanks largely to Lions star Adam Jones. However, depriving Munster of a losing bonus-point was just a bridge too far as the Irish held on to take some consolation into the final two rounds of this fascinating Pool.
This was a game that clicked into life just after 20 minutes when Munster found top form they so often save for the Heineken Cup. Forward they came through Sam Tuitupou, who broke through the line before offloading to Denis Leamy. From that passage the ball came out to an unstoppable Tony Buckley at full pace and, with a little help from his team-mates, the Ireland tighthead powered his way over the line for seven points.
Buckley's try had followed Ronan O'Gara and Dan Biggar trading a penalty apiece and looked to have swung the momentum well in favour of the former champions. However, the Ospreys duly cranked the heat on a cold winters day and responded using some power of their own. It was not through a prop though as Mike Phillips backed himself and burrowed his way over, with the conversion levelling matters.
Ospreys had their swagger back and kept on pushing until the interval, adding a further three points when Biggar sent over a penalty. 13-10 it was at the interval.
Things changed after the turnaround. Munster were beginning to use all of their nous and grunt to take a stranglehold on the game – and the Pool for that matter. Forwards putting their heads down which resulted in James Coughlan sneaking over the whitewash, however, he was adjudged to have been held up by the hosts.
It seemed the storm was weathered when one of the biggest cheers of the night was heard when the Ospreys survived another red wave. A significant moment? Well, they added another three points via the boot of Biggar which extended their lead to six so maybe so. It was also, of course, music to the ears of Pool Three rivals Toulon, who were on their way to beating London Irish at Stade FÃ©lix Mayol.
But, as is their wont, Munster would not roll over in the Heineken Cup and from a Doug Howlett chip, Keith Earls managed to gather and cross in the corner. The score was now 16-15 with a quarter to go as the Ospreys argued Howlett had pushed Richard Fussell.
Their cries would utlimately be forgotten though as a hard and hungry approach ended up seeing a further three points being added by Biggar, who enjoyed a strong 80 minutes in between Phillips and the classy inside centre James Hook.
Victory leaves the Welsh region three points behind new Pool leaders Toulon and a single point off Munster, with a trip to out-of-contention London Irish their next assignment.
Man-of-the-match: It has to go to Adam Jones. James Hook showed flashes of brilliance along with Jerry Collins and Dan Biggar but Jones was the heartbeat of the home scrum.
Pen: Biggar 4
Tries: Buckley, Earls
Ospreys: 15 Barry Davies, 14 Nikki Walker, 13 Tommy Bowe, 12 James Hook, 11 Richard Fussell, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones, 4 Ryan Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Mefin Davies, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Ian Gough, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Jamie Nutbrown, 22 Sonny Parker, 23 Andrew Bishop.
Munster: 15 Paul Warwick, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Johne Murphy, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 Denis Leamy, 7 David Wallace, 6 James Coughlan, 5 Mick O'Driscoll, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 Darragh Hurley, 18 John Hayes, 19 Donnacha Ryan, 20 Alan Quinlan, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Lifeimi Mafi, 23 Denis Hurley.
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Franck Maciello (France), Eric Soulan (France)
By Adam Kyriacou