Munster too good for Ospreys
PRO14 REPORT: Ian Keatley was near-perfect from the tee as Munster claimed a 36-10 win over Ospreys in their bid to reach the top of Conference A.
The Irish side scored five tries to claim their third league win in a row as they continue to narrow Glasgow Warriors’ lead at the top of the table.
New head coach Johann van Graan's first game on home soil with Munster could hardly have begun better as Sam Arnold, Darren Sweetnam, Chris Cloete and Rory Scannell all dotted down in the first half.
Jeff Hassler and Will Jones' tries gave Ospreys some consolation, but they could not prevent the Welsh team suffering another away defeat.
Keatley was given an early chance to take the home side ahead when Ospreys were penalised at the breakdown and it would be the first successful kick of many.
Will Jones, making his first Pro14 start, saw yellow for a tackle on Cloete and Munster took full advantage as Ospreys went down to 14 men.
James Hart's box kick saw the Irish side up to the 22 and Sam Arnold was the man to finish off the move to claim their first five points.
Munster's kicking game saw them over the whitewash once more, as Keatley booted the ball up field, putting the side in a perfect attacking position.
The flyhalf found Sweetnam, who sent the ball to Cloete and the South African gave a basketball pass back to send him over, with Keatley converting for a second time.
Cloete himself dotted down with a pick and go shortly after, with Keatley adding an impressive two points from the touchline.
Ospreys managed to reduce the deficit slightly when Jeff Hassler went over in the corner, but Munster looked comfortable as they went in 24-5 at the break.
Rowan Jenkins made his debut for the Welsh side when he came on in the 42nd minute and it was a baptism of fire as Scannell scored a minute later.
The Irishman’s show and go saw him cross for the second week in a row and the 23-year-old continued to contribute with some perfectly weighted kicks.
Scannell’s boot brought Munster up to Osprey’s 5m line and Jack O’Donoghue prospered from the move, dotting down in the corner.
Keatley missed the conversion, his first mistake from the tee all night and Ospreys soon began to increase the pressure after a break from Hassler.
The tables turned as Jones got the chance to make the most of a reduced Munster defence after O'Donoghue received a yellow card.
Ospreys built up the phases and the flanker eventually managed to find a gap to claw back five more points.
Tries: Arnold, Sweetnam, Cloete, R Scannell, O’Donoghue
Cons: Keatley 4
Tries: Hassler, Jones
Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Sam Arnold, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 James Hart, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Billy Holland (captain), 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Liam O’Connor.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 Brian Scott, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Darren O’Shea, 20 Sean O’Connor, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Calvin Nash.
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 James Hook, 11 Jeff Hassler, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 James King, 7 Will Jones, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Bradley Davies (captain), 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Rowan Jenkins, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Rob McCusker, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22 Luke Price, 23 Joe Thomas.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Ian Davies (Wales), Simon Rees (Wales)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)