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Zebo strikes in 'special' Munster victory

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Munster's James Downey bursts through the Ospreys defence to score under the posts

Munster's James Downey bursts through the Ospreys defence to score under the posts

SPORTSFILE

Munster's James Downey bursts through the Ospreys defence to score under the posts

Munster's James Downey bursts through the Ospreys defence to score under the posts

SPORTSFILE

Ian Keatley, Munster, breaks through the tackle of  Sam Lewis, Ospreys

Ian Keatley, Munster, breaks through the tackle of Sam Lewis, Ospreys

SPORTSFILE

Ian Keatley, Munster, in action against Duncan Jones, Ospreys

Ian Keatley, Munster, in action against Duncan Jones, Ospreys

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Munster's James Downey bursts through the Ospreys defence to score under the posts

Munster reclaimed top spot in the Pro12 from Leinster as they eased to a three-try success against the Ospreys in Swansea.

An early score from Sean Dougall provided the platform for a 13th win of the campaign, with Simon Zebo then racing home from long range shortly after the interval before James Downey finished things off in style late on.

Munster head coach Rob Penney said: "We are really pleased to get a win – Ospreys are a talented group and have been there or thereabouts all season. The Liberty Stadium is a difficult place to come. A number of our boys have not won here before so it's a wee bit of a special one."

Munster were seven points to the good after just six minutes as Dougall powered over from a close-range line-out. Skipper James Coughlan's decision to instruct Ian Keatley to kick for the corner from 30 metres out paid dividends as Donnacha Ryan leapt highest and Duncan Casey was driven onwards before Dougall dived over.

Keatley's well-struck conversion handed Munster a seven-point lead and he extended that to 10 with a penalty after a quarter of an hour.

Sam Davies cut the gap two minutes later after Coughlan was caught offside when Andrew Conway spilled a high ball but Keatley struck again from 40 metres to make it 13-3 on 25 minutes.

Munster seemed to switch off for the remainder of the half and they could have found themselves behind had Davies not missed three successive kicks at goal. The young full-back shook the post a minute after Keatley's latest effort and he then failed with the extras when Ashley Beck made light work of the fly-half's poor tackle to cross for a try. Davies then miscued with the final play of the half to ensure Munster led by five at the break.

Penney's men began the second period in far brighter fashion, though, and Zebo stopped the swing in momentum when he cruised home from 55 metres five minutes after the restart. The Lions wing gave Ireland coach Joe Schmidt another reminder of his match-winning abilities as he picked up a ball at an Ospreys ruck before slipping out of Tom Habberfield's tackle for his fourth try in three games.

Munster almost killed the hosts off moments later when a loose Ospreys line-out allowed Coughlan to power to within inches of a third try. Tommy O'Donnell then knocked on with the line beckoning. However, replacement fly-half JJ Hanrahan handed off openside Sam Lewis to provide the platform for Downey to blast through for the clinching try late on.

Ospreys – S Davies; A Natoga, J Spratt (capt), A Beck, J Hassler (H Dirksen 54); M Morgan (R Fussell 54), T Habberfield (T Tebaldi 70); D Jones (M Thomas 74), S Baldwin (M Dwyer 74), D Suter (J Rees 54), P Parker (R Jones 46), J King, T Ardron, S Lewis, J Bearman (D Baker).

Munster – F Jones; A Conway, C Laulala, J Downey (D Hurley 70), S Zebo; I Keatley (JJ Hanrahan 64), C Sheridan (D Williams 41); J Cronin (D Kilcoyne 70), D Casey (G Slattery 79), BJ Botha (S Archer 67), D Ryan, D Foley (D O'Callaghan 70), T O'Donnell (CJ Stander 62), S Dougall, J Coughlan (capt).

Ref – D Wilkinson (IRFU)

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