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Dublin: 5 °C Monday 10 December, 2018
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Liveblog

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Hello friends, and welcome to The42′s liveblog of Munster v Ospreys.

Last night’s semi-final between Glasgow and Ulster was a bit of a screamer, and today’s is going to be even better.

Here is how the two teams will line out.

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Denis Hurley (c), 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Paddy Butler, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Paul O’Connell, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 David Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Duncan Casey, 17 John Ryan, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Ronan O’Mahony.

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Ben John, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Tyler Ardron, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 James King, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Jonathan Spratt.

It is worth remembering that the Ospreys turned Munster over in Limerick at the start of the year and have a history of upsetting Irish teams.

Source: PRO12 Rugby/YouTube

Still, Munster are five-point favourites and seem to be peaking at the right time.

During the Six Nations, Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray got lots of kudos for being the premier northern hemisphere half-back pairing, but Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb are playing similarly excellent recently.

Webb’s cheeky try against Glasgow a few weeks ago was a particular highlight.

webb

Every time Alun Wyn Jones faces Paul O’Connell, the earth shakes. Jones seems to be Paulie’s natural successor in terms of quality northern hemisphere second rows.

Alun Wyn Jones arrives Source: James Crombie/INPHO

On an unrelated note, Cian Healy’s max bench press is 190kg and his max squat is 300kg!

The teams are coming out onto the pitch! Can Munster do the business?

Still a good few empty seats in the upper tier at Thomond, which is disappointing.

1Mins

We are off in Thomond!

1Mins

Ospreys build some early pressure right on the outskirts of the Munster 22 but it ends with Dan Biggar steering a drop goal just wide.

2Mins

The Ospreys are back in the Munster 22. 10m from the line now.

3Mins

Close from the Ospreys! Biggar’s pass almost finds hooker Scott Baldwin but the ball bounces into touch 5m out.

4Mins

It has been all Ospreys at the moment. They are in possession AGAIN outside the 22.

6Mins

Eli Walker manufactures a few yards on the left wing but Conor Murray hauls him down a metre short of the line. Centres Josh Matevesi and Ben John both did excellently to keep the ball alive in the build-up. Munster escape by forcing a turnover penalty on their own try-line.

8Mins

Dave Kilcoyne did his best Cian Healy impression there, barrelling his way into the Ospreys 22. After a few more strong carries from the pack, Stephen Archer almost muscled over in the left-hand corner but drooped the ball. Great response from the home side.

11Mins

Munster get penalised on halfway for hands in the ruck and the Ospreys have a lineout on the Munster 22.

12Mins

And now another penalty in the shadow of the Munster posts will allow Biggar to put the Ospreys in front. They deserve their lead too.

Flag

Munster 0-3 Ospreys

Biggar makes no mistake and the visitors have finally made their pressure tell.

15Mins

Andrew Smith carries strongly and Munster are into the Ospreys 22.

16Mins

Baldwin is penalised for a high tackle on Stephen Archer and Munster should level the match now.

16Mins

Conor Murray is down grabbing his ankle. Looks like his game could be over.

17Mins

Munster 3-3 Ospreys

Keatley slots the easy penalty and we are level.

18Mins

Murray is off and Duncan Williams is on. Hopefully it isn’t a long-term injury.

21Mins

Munster win a scrum penalty on halfway and now have a lineout just inside the Ospreys 22.

22Mins

Ospreys collapse the Munster maul and the home side have a very kickable penalty. Also, Munster assistant coach Mick O’Driscoll says Conor Murray might be out for a couple of weeks.

Flag

Munster 6-3 Ospreys

The visitors have played a bit more rugby but Munster have absorbed the pressure well.

24Mins

Oh no! Keatley tries a reverse kick but it does not go well. Ospreys have a lineout inside the Munster half after the out-half’s kick goes out on the full.

26Mins

Rhys Webb makes a dart in the Munster 22 but throws an errant pass that Paddy Butler reels in. Keatley then finds touch outside his 22.

27Mins

Ospreys fullback Dan Evans makes a lovely arching run across the pitch but his pop pass is fumbled by Alun Wyn Jones on halfway.

30Mins

Munster poach an Ospreys lineout and are now on the charge in the Ospreys 22!

31Mins

After ten phases, CJ Stander carries a little too high and the Ospreys strip the ball.

32Mins

Lydiate has had a good game for the visitors. He just lumberjacked Paddy Butler!

33Mins

Massive mistake by Dan Biggar! Ospreys win a penalty but the out-half kicks the ball dead as he tries to milk a few extra yards for the lineout.

34Mins

And Munster win a penalty from the resulting scrum. Big momentum shift.

35Mins

Rhys Webb is pinged for obstruction on his own 10m line and Munster can extend their lead just before half time.

36Mins

Bad miss from Keatley…

38Mins

The kicking has been shocking in the last few minutes. Dan Evans has just lazily lumped a left-footer dead. Poor end to the half. The game has petered out a bit in the last 10 minutes.

Flag

TRY! Munster 11-3 Ospreys

Ian Keatley throws a delicious offload inside to Stander, who combines with Paddy Butler to send Zebo over. Great try!

HT Munster 11-3 Ospreys

Keatley misses the conversion but Munster just hit the Ospreys with a hammer!

Just to describe the try a bit more:

Ian Keatley took the ball off the scrum and ducked back inside. He was tackled but freed his hands and found Stander with an offload. Stander motored for about 15m before feeding Butler, who generously allowed Zebo to run the ball into the corner.

Zebo celebrated with the classic Bebeto ‘baby’ celebration. He became a father last week.

40Mins

The second half is off here!

41Mins

Lydiate is off, and is now icing his shoulder on the bench. He tallied ten chop tackles in the first half!

Flag 43Mins

TRY! Munster 16-3 Ospreys

The Munster pack piled into the Ospreys 22 and then Keatley found Denis Hurley out wide, who showed great skill to get past Eli Walker and Dan Evans to score. A superb finish.

44Mins

Another poor Keatley kick misses the mark, but Munster are in total control now with a 13-point lead. Game over?

45Mins

Peter O’Mahony has been replaced by Billy Holland.

46Mins

So POM and Murray have both gone off injured. Joe Schmidt probably looks like the monkey-covering-his-eyes emoji right about now.

Flag

TRY! Munster 16-8 Ospreys

My lord, Rhys Webb is such a thief! CJ Stander picked off the back of the scrum 40m out and threw the ball straight into Webb’s hands, who sauntered home. Great awareness by the scrum-half but very poor from Stander.

Flag

TRY! Munster 21-8 Ospreys

What a response from Munster! Kilcoyne carries strongly near the line and two phases later, Paddy Butler barges over. The openside has been one of Munster’s best performers today. Also, Stander started it all with a big carry to move into the opposition half.

51Mins

Another missed kick from Keatley though…

52Mins

That ridiculous Stander pass aside, Munster have been very comfortable from about ten minutes on.

Flag

TRY! Munster 21-15 Ospreys

What a finish from Jeff Hassler! The wing picks up a loose ball on halfway and dances around Stander and BJ Botha before holding off Simon Zebo to score under the posts.

54Mins

It’s up for grabs now!

54Mins

And now Keatley kicks out on the full! The out-half has had a nightmare with the boot.

56Mins

Eli Walker carries high in the Munster half – easy work for Donnacha Ryan and Paulie. Scrum to Munster.

58Mins

A lot of people on Twitter want JJ Hanrahan on for Ian Keatley. The place-kicks are becoming a big problem.

59Mins

Another poor kick from Dan Evans rolls over the try-line. The players need to stop using the boot today, it really isn’t working for anyone.

60Mins

Hassler makes another big carry into the Munster 22 before Keatley stops him. Just when it looks like a try is coming, Butler forces a big, big turnover and the home side clears.

62Mins

Josh Matevesi cuts a scintillating line that sees him glide through the Munster defence but his try-scoring pass is batted back by a Munster hand and turned over. The Ospreys are gunning for that go-ahead try at the moment.

65Mins

Ospreys have a lineout on their own 10m line now. 15 to go.

65Mins

Ospreys win a penalty in front of the posts after Munster go off their feet. Looks like Biggar will go for the posts.

66Mins

Simon Zebo is currently receiving attention. Looks like it might be a concussion.

66Mins

Zebo sitting up now but looks shaken. Being helped to his feet by the medic.

67Mins

Munster 21-18 Ospreys

Biggar finally gets us started again by slotting the straightforward penalty.

71Mins

Ten minutes to go now and the Ospreys are trying to launch an attack from deep.

71Mins

But Munster counter and Duncan Williams pins them back inside their own 22.

72Mins

Baldwin is pinged for holding on in his own 22 and Munster will have a chance to extend their lead to six. Can Keatley make it though?

73Mins

My god… Keatley shanked another one. When does Hanrahan come on?!

73Mins

Anthony Foley must be following this feed… Hanrahan is on for Keatley.

74Mins

Munster win a scrum penalty on the Ospreys 10m line in front of the posts. Hanrahan will step up now.

75Mins

And now Hanrahan misses a sitter! This is an embarrassing display of kicking.

76Mins

Ronan O’Mahony almost sneaks over in the left corner but his grubber dribbles into touch.

77Mins

Munster win another penalty in the Ospreys 22 but opt for the corner this time. Wonder why…

79Mins

But now Ospreys win a turnover penalty! They have a lineout on their own 10m line now. A penalty for extra-time, a try for the win.

80Mins

TMO time! Ospreys score a try through Josh Matevesi but it looks like Rhys Webb knocked on in the build-up.

FT Munster 21-18 Ospreys

Munster survive! Nigel Owens awards a knock-on and Anthony Foley’s men are through to the final to face Glasgow. What a crazy finish to the game though. Ian Keatley’s kicking made sure the Ospreys stayed in touch but overall, Munster deserved it.

That’s all for our liveblog today. Make sure to check the site in the next few minutes for all the reaction from Thomond Park.

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