Thursday 20 July 2017

Erasmus delighted with Reds' resilience

Ospreys 23 Munster 25

Dave Kilcoyne crashes over to score Munster’s crucial late try against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea. Photo: Darren Griffiths/Sportsfile
Dave Kilcoyne crashes over to score Munster’s crucial late try against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea. Photo: Darren Griffiths/Sportsfile

Alex Bywater

Rassie Erasmus hailed his players' resolve after Munster came from behind to move back top of the Guinness Pro12 table with victory in Swansea.

Erasmus saw his team go 17-3 down inside 24 minutes at the Liberty Stadium as the Welsh side ran riot in the opening exchanges with two early tries. But Munster's showed grit and resilience as they fought back to snatch the points late on.

Prop Dave Kilcoyne was the hero, popping up with the decisive try with just two minutes to go, and director of rugby Erasmus was full of praise for the way his side changed the course of the game.

The South African said his team should now be aiming for at least a home semi-final in the play-offs.

"We're very relieved. The game could have gone either way so to come away to a team which has been on such a good run and get the win is really pleasing," Erasmus said.

"We were under pressure after going 17-3 down. The try just before half-time helped and we played better tactically in the second half.

Rhys Marshall of Munster tackled by Rhodri Jones of Ospreys. Photo by Darren Griffiths/Sportsfile
Rhys Marshall of Munster tackled by Rhodri Jones of Ospreys. Photo by Darren Griffiths/Sportsfile

"There are still a lot of things to rectify. The physicality wasn't there in the first 15 minutes, but the boys realised that and turned it around. That can sometimes be very hard to do."

Tries from Hanno Dirksen and Kieron Fonotia and two conversions and two penalties from young Wales out-half Sam Davies had put the Ospreys in control. Munster were forced to make 105 tackles in the first half, though they hit back just before the break.

Jack O'Donoghue and Francis Saili crossed for quick-fire scores, captain Tyler Bleyendaal adding a conversion and two penalties to ensure they turned around just two points behind.

The second half was a tighter, more tactical affair, and although Davies added his third penalty in the 59th minute, incessant late Munster pressure paid off. Bleyendaal thought he'd made it to the line, only to be denied by the TMO, before Kilcoyne burrowed over.

Munster's Francis Saili celebrates after scoring his sides second try. Photo by Darren Griffiths/Sportsfile
Munster's Francis Saili celebrates after scoring his sides second try. Photo by Darren Griffiths/Sportsfile

That made it 23-23, and Bleyendaal showed nerves of steel to nail the match winning conversion.

The out-half said: "We take a lot of confidence from this.

"It probably wasn't the greatest performance but we stuck to it. There wasn't a lot of panic. We can be better and more accurate, but when you play a team like the Ospreys you can't be perfect the whole time. It was a great result in the end."

Avoid

The Ospreys weren't happy with referee Marius Mitrea, and Munster were lucky to avoid a yellow card for Saili after the centre stopped a potential Ashley Beck try with a no-arms tackle. Ospreys coach Steve Tandy felt his side should have been awarded a penalty try.

Munster now turn their attentions to hosting Scarlets on Friday, and Erasmus said: "The win is particularly pleasing because it's one of the toughest defensive challenges we've had.

"We showed lots of guts and that makes me proud. The top four spot is the first milestone because we weren't there last year. To get a home semi-final would be great."

Ospreys - Evans (Leonard 52); Giles (John 54), Fonotia, Beck, Dirksen; Davies, Habberfield (capt); Smith (James 63), Baldwin (Parry 54), Jones (Suter 58), Ashley (Ardron 66), Thornton, Cracknell (Baker 53), Underhill, King.

Munster - I Keatley (A Conway 46); D Sweetnam, F Saili, R Scannell, R O'Mahony (D Goggin 73); T Bleyendaal (capt), D Williams; D Kilcoyne (P McCabe 79), R Marshall (K O'Byrne 54), J Ryan (S Archer 75), D O'Shea (D Foley 46), B Holland; D O'Callaghan, T O'Donnell (C Oliver 71), J O'Donoghue.

Ref - M Mitrea (Italy)

Irish Independent

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