Man of the match performance from Tadgh Beirne earns hard-fought win for Munster in Swansea
Ospreys 13-19 Munster
Tadgh Beirne gave Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt a timely nudge with a superb man-of-the-match performance as Munster beat the Ospreys in Swansea.
The Ireland international was a late call-up for South African Jean Kleyn who pulled out due to illness. And Beirne was outstanding winning a number of crucial turnovers to help his side solidify their position in the Conference A play-off places.
Beirne has sat out the first three rounds of the Six Nations with a knee injury, but on this evidence is a serious contender to figure against France and Wales.
A penalty try and a touchdown apiece from Darren Sweetnam and Mike Haley plus two points from the boot of JJ Hanrahan was enough to get Munster over the line.
All the Ospreys could muster was a try from Hanno Dirksen and six points from Luke Price.
Munster drew first blood with Sweetnam crossing at the corner after a lovely missed pass by Hanrahan saw the winger step back inside to score.
It was young wing Keelan Giles who sparked the Welsh region into life with an electric break up the touchline after some neat handling by Price and Dan Evans. Just as he was about to get bundled into touch the former Wales Under-20 star executed a well-weighted kick through for Dirksen to score.
The try wasn’t immediately given with referee Stuart Berry deciding to go upstairs to check whether Dirksen was in front of the ball before awarding the score.
A cracking break from captain Olly Cracknell who charged into the Munster 22 allowed Price to put the Ospreys into an unlikely lead.
Munster laid siege to the Ospreys line with their forwards going through numerous phases before being held up over the try line. But they went again off the resulting scrum with Beirne reaching out in attempt to pace the ball against the post.
Yet again Berry made use of the TMO with the replays showing Ospreys openside Sam Cross preventing the try from an offside position. As a result a penalty try was awarded with Cross sent to the sin bin meaning Munster turned around 14-10 ahead.
The Ospreys came out firing in the second half with Price cutting Munster’s lead to a single point. But the visitors went up a few gears in the final quarter and after their forwards had softened up the Ospreys defence with a series of ferocious carries, the ball was spread wide for Haley to touch down.
Ospreys: Evans; Dirksen, Allen, Thomas-Wheeler (Hook 41), Giles (Morgan 64); Price, Aubrey (Morgan-Williams 54); Lay (Jenkins 64), Baldwin (Otten 64), Botha (Fia 55), King, Davies, Cracknell, Cross, McCusker (Ashley 40) (Griffiths 73)
Tries: Dirksen 19
Con: Price 19
Pen: Price 33, 64
Munster: Haley, Nash, Goggin, Taute (Scannell 50), Sweetnam (Johnston 64); Hanrahan, Cronin (Mathewson 50); Loughman (O’Connor 54), Marshall (O’Byrne 55), Archer (Parker 54), Beirne, Holland, Wycherley (O’Donoghue 71), Cloete, Botha (O’Shea 71)
Tries: Sweetnam 5, Penalty 37, Haley 71
Convs: Hanrahan 6
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Star man: Tadhg Beirne (Munster)