Thursday 27 July 2017

Foley looks to regroup as Munster fluff their lines

munster 13, ospreys 17, John Fallon

Skipper Peter O'Mahony produced another superb performance but it was not enough to prevent a second successive defeat for Munster on Saturday in the Pro12.

Ospreys completed a miserable day for Irish rugby as the Welsh again showed more craft to edge a tight game at Thomond Park. But Munster forwards coach Anthony Foley said that they will not panic following a second loss on the spin.

The victory sends Ospreys into the three-week break with six wins from six and Foley said the key now for Munster would be to regroup.

"We have a big batch of games coming up with 13 or 14 weeks in a row," he said. "When the (Ireland) boys come back they have a bit of break and then everyone will integrate. Our priority is to get Munster going forward and to get a victory against Aironi."

Foley added that Munster had been able to blood young players during the World Cup and this would be of benefit to them in the long run. They had opportunities to secure victory here but a series of surges failed to yield reward. "As the season progresses hopefully we will get tidier in there and make sure we are more ruthless in our approach when we are two metres from the line," said Foley.

Munster enjoyed the perfect start when Danny Barnes charged down a clearance from Hanno Dirksen to score after just two minutes. But Ospreys -- who enjoyed eight penalties to Munster's four in the opening half -- hit back and after Dan Biggar and Ian Keatley swapped penalties, the Ospreys out-half landed another before the break to leave it 10-6 to the hosts.

It was a fiery and niggly affair and it was no surprise when referee James Jones reached for the pocket after Stephen Archer was again penalised in a scrum four minutes after the restart and Biggar added to Munster's woe by slotting the penalty from 40-metres to leave just a point between them.

The Munster response was excellent, with O'Mahony leading the way with another excellent performance. They went on the front foot despite being a man down and it took some desperate Ospreys defending to keep their line intact. It came at a price, though, for the Welsh, with skipper Justin Tipuric getting a yellow card for an infringement spotted by a touch judge.

However, Keatley hit the woodwork for the second time with the resultant penalty from the left.

Archer was replaced by BJ Botha and Munster used the extra man to lay siege on the visitors' line but just when it seemed that they would pull away, disaster struck.

Ospreys full-back Barry Davies intercepted Mick O'Driscoll's poor pass just metres from the line with Munster having an overlap and he sprinted the length of the field. Keatley and Doug Howlett got back to impede him but he fed Richard Fussell, who put scrum-half Rhys Webb over for a try after 56 minutes.

Biggar missed the conversion and Munster got another advantage six minutes later when Ospreys dissent saw a penalty on half-way moved forward and Keatley split the posts from 40-metres to leave them 14-13 behind with 18 minutes left.

Munster had opportunities in the closing stages, especially when Ian Nagle stole a line-out five metres from the Ospreys line, but the Welsh defended superbly and turned over the ball. They wrapped up the issue when Biggar landed his fourth kick in the final play of the game.

MUNSTER -- J Murphy (S Zebo 70), D Howlett, D Barnes, L Mafi, D Hurley (S Deasy 75); I Keatley, D Williams (P Stringer 66); W du Preez (M Horan 58), D Fogarty, S Archer (BJ Botha 54); B Holland (I Nagle 60), M O'Driscoll; D O'Callaghan, N Ronan, P O'Mahony.

OSPREYS -- B Davies; H Dirksen, T Isaacs (S Parker 58), A Bishop, R Fussell; D Biggar, R Webb; D Jones, R Hibbard, C Griffiths (A Jarvis 54); I Gough (T Smith 56), I Evans (J King 71); J Bearman, J Tipuric, J Thomas .

REF -- J Jones (WRU)

Irish Independent

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