John Fallon reports from Musgrave Park
FRANCIS SAILI SCORED his first try in 15 appearances for Munster this evening but his hopes of celebrating his 25th birthday on Tuesday with a win were dashed as Ospreys came from behind to win.
Munster failed to make the most of their chances when they were on top and paid the price as Ospreys exacted revenge for their 20-18 loss in Swansea earlier in the season.
It was a frustrating game for Munster as they fell to their fifth defeat of the campaign and are now seven points away from a Guinness Pro12 play-off spot.
It was a superb score from the twice-capped All Black Saili, when he darted in from deep down the right, passing Ospreys winger Ben John to score and it seemed that would be the platform for victory.
That score put Munster 12-7 ahead after 27 minutes of a decent contest which saw the Reds hit the front after 12 minutes when scrum-half Duncan Williams blocked down a clearance from his opposite number Brendon Leonard to score, with Ian Keatley adding the extras.
But Ospreys hit back and were rewarded for good pressure when out-half Sam Davies got over after 25 minutes and then converted his own score to tie the match. Saili’s excellent try saw Munster lead 12-10 at the break after Davies pulled back a penalty for the Welsh.
But the introduction of Welsh scrum-half Rhys Webb, back after missing the World Cup with a leg injury suffered in a warm-up game against Italy, made a huge difference to the Ospreys after the restart.
Munster managed to extend their lead when Robin Copeland got over for his seventh try for the province after a sublime pass from Darren Sweetnam.
Davies cut the gap to 17-13 with a penalty and then Ospreys hit the front for the first time when Owen Watkin squeezed in at the left corner past Copeland and Andrew Conway going into the final quarter.
Davies extended the lead with a third penalty and a late Munster effort to snatch a winner came up short.
Munster scorers:Tries: Duncan Williams, Francis Saili, Robin Copeland
Conversions: Ian Keatley (1)
Tries: Sam Davies, Owen Watkin
Conversions: Davies (1)
Penalties: Davies (3)
MUNSTER: Andrew Conway; Darren Sweetnam, Francis Saili, Rory Scannell, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams (Tomas O’Leary, ’71); Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry (Niall Scannell, ’54), John Ryan (Mario Sagario, ’71); Dave Foley, Mark Chisholm (Shane Buckley, ’62); Billy Holland, Jack O’Donoghue, Robin Copeland.
OSPREYS: Dan Evans; Tom Grabham, JJ Engelbrecht, Josh Matavesi (Owen Watkin, ’45), Ben John; Sam Davies, Brendon Leonard (Rhys Webb, ’51, Tom Habberfield ‘79); Nicky Smith (Gareth Thomas, ’51), Sam Parry (Scott Otten, ’65), Dimitri Arhip (Ma’afu Fia, ‘10); Rynier Bernardo (Adam Beard, ’71), Rory Thornton; Joe Bearman (Olly Cracknell, ’51), Sam Underhill, Dan Baker.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales).
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