'We knocked lumps out of each other in training, and it came up trumps'

Munster reaped the rewards of a hard week of work around their lineout maul in the victory over Ospreys.

IT WAS CLEAR from the early stages of Munster’s Guinness Pro14 evisceration of the Ospreys that the pack had done huge work on their set-piece after it had malfunctioned so disappointingly a week previous.

Munster's Darren O'Shea O'Shea played 80 minutes against the Ospreys. Inpho / Billy Stickland Inpho / Billy Stickland / Billy Stickland

While Joey Carbery truly announced himself in a Munster jersey with a confident and assured display in the 10 jersey, a performance embellished with his first try in red, the home side’s dominance up front laid the platform for an emphatic 49-13 win.

Peter O’Mahony, Rhys Marshall, Tadhg Beirne, Chris Cloete and Arno Botha all had huge games in the trenches, and three of Munster’s seven tries came from compact and powerful rolling mauls.

The returning O’Mahony orchestrated Munster’s first try in the 16th minute at Musgrave Park, prowling at the back of the maul after Darren O’Shea had gathered Marshall’s lineout and Cloete and the Kiwi hooker had continued the momentum.

The Munster captain would eventually fall over the whitewash, by which stage referee Stuart Berry was making his way under the posts for a penalty try after Ospreys second row Giorgi Nemsadze had sacked the maul in a bid to stop the inevitable. It only set the tone for the evening.

“That was one of the things we worked on all week, and we really got into each other on Tuesday [in training] and that came out in the maul,” O’Shea said afterwards.

“Our patience in the maul especially.”

Maul 1 P2

With Carbery dancing his way through the Ospreys defence for a memorable maiden Munster try, Johann van Graan’s side were well on their way, before the pack further stamped their authority on the game.

Cloete’s initial burst for the line created the opening for James Cronin to get it down on the base of the post, before Munster used the rolling maul to great effect on the stroke of half-time with Marshall applying the finishing touch to seal the bonus-point.

The hooker was over again just after the break in near-identical circumstances, further reward for the work of Jerry Flannery and the pack at UL in the week leading up to the game.

“We were all hurting after the loss against Glasgow and knew we really needed to pull the finger out to perform,” O’Shea, who was a key cog in the wheel as lineout jumper, continued. 

“Our work all week helped us perform.

“We did a lot of reps on Monday and Tuesday and as I said, we went through the kind of technical stuff on Tuesday morning and then in the afternoon got into each other. There’s only one way you’re going to get better at mauling is by doing it and it came up trumps.

“We knocked lumps out of each other. Nothing held back, can’t be holding back as that’s how you get injured. Everything from the throwing to the lifting and jumping. It was just excellent to get it going against Ospreys.”

Maul3 P1

Maul 3 P2

After being left out of the squad for the round two defeat in Glasgow, O’Shea was named captain of the Munster A squad for their Celtic Cup clash with Connacht on the same weekend, playing the full 80 minutes.

The 25-year-old second row was rewarded with his first Pro14 start of the season against Ospreys and while his contributions weren’t as pronounced as the try-scoring exploits of Marshall, man-of-the-match performance of Cloete or standout first start for Beirne, he could take great confidence from his own display. 

“It’s great to get the minutes under my belt,” O’Shea continued. “There’s a savage competition for places, in both the A team and the senior team, and I think those 70-something minutes last weekend stood to me today.

“The competition for places is massive, even the younger lads in the sub-academy and academy, they’re really pushing the senior players to get better in training each week.”

Having signed a new two-year contract with his native province during the summer, O’Shea is looking to push on for further game time with Munster this term after returning from Worcester Warriors in 2016.

The Crosshaven man made just four starts last season but with Billy Holland currently nursing a rib injury, there may be further opportunities over the coming weeks, starting with Friday’s trip to the Cardiff Blues.

“It’ll be another fast-track pitch,” he added. “We just need to stick to our basics and keep being physical and hopefully we can build on the Ospreys performance.”  

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