Wednesday 21 March 2018

Reds' belief tremendous-- McGahan

Ospreys 20 Munster 22

Ian Bransfield At the Liberty Stadium

Not for the first time this season, Tony McGahan was left to extol the fighting spirit of his Munster side after they clutched another victory from the jaws of defeat against the Ospreys on Saturday night.

Having led for much of the opening hour, the league leaders found themselves in a hole with three minutes remaining after a penalty from James Hook nudged the struggling Welsh region 20-19 ahead.

Cue a frantic end-game, during which the hosts' Jerry Collins was yellow-carded for a shuddering high tackle on Felix Jones in between two missed drop-goal attempts by Ronan O'Gara.

Presented with one final chance from the kicking tee, however, the Corkman split the posts to see Munster on their way to their eighth consecutive victory, a result which partially released the Ospreys' grip on the trophy they won last season.

"I was really pleased with the fighting qualities of the group as a whole," said McGahan afterwards.

"They really fought for each other. They really competed for everything that was out there, whether it was on the ground, in the set-piece or on the scoreboard.

"We've been faced with difficult situations before and we've had to chase games and that certainly helps us to pull out results in big games.

"The belief and direction that they showed late on speaks volumes for the group. They were tremendous."

The one blight on the landscape for McGahan and co came in the form of a faltering scrum, which almost cost them in a manner similar to their last visit to Swansea.

A first-half try by David Wallace saw Munster go into the break ahead 10-3, but they were struggling at the engagement and they allowed the Ospreys to claw their way back into the game after the interval.

Firstly, Alun Wyn Jones crossed the whitewash from the back of a maul before referee Jerome Garces awarded a penalty try to the hosts after a series of scrum resets five metres from the Munster line.

McGahan acknowledged the difficulty his side experienced, though he didn't believe it was a huge concern.

"We've certainly made progress but, like anything, you have days where things are on your side and you have other days when it's a tough day at the office, as it was at times today," he said.

For Munster, attention now turns to the Amlin Cup and a semi-final showdown against Harlequins on Saturday.

Despite missing last weekend's 'A' match against Moseley due to a stiff back, scrum-half Tomas O'Leary is likely to come back into consideration for the Thomond Park clash.

So too is Johne Murphy, who has fully recovered from the eye injury which sidelined him last week.

Ospreys -- L Byrne (A Bishop 29); N Walker, T Bowe, J Hook, R Fussell; D Biggar (S Parker 72), R Webb (M Phillips 74); R Bevington (P James 55), R Hibbard, A Jones (D Jones 72); I Gough (R Jones 20-29, 42), A Wyn Jones (capt); J Tipuric, M Holah (J Collins 72), J Thomas.

Munster -- F Jones; D Howlett, L Mafi, P Warwick (S Zebo 66), K Earls; R O'Gara (capt), C Murray (P Stringer 63); M Horan (W du Preez 50), D Varley (M Sherry 63), J Hayes (T Buckley 41); I Nagle (T O'Donnell 60), D O'Callaghan; D Ryan, D Wallace, J Coughlan.

Ref -- J Garces (FFR).

Irish Independent

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