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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 25 February, 2020
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It’s not going to be the nervy nailbiting afternoon that many Munster fans were clinging onto as a last hope — Northampton and Glasgow both saw to that yesterday — and instead, all that’s left to play for at Thomond Park this afternoon is pride.

Neither the hosts nor Ospreys can progress to the quarter-finals of this year’s Heineken Champions Cup, but nonetheless, this is a dead rubber that Munster will desperately want to perform in.

Kick-off is at 1pm.

TEAM NEWS: Late change for Munster as Chris Farrell pulls out with a bruised knee suffered in training; Sammy Arnold comes straight in to midfield to replace him.

Munster

15. Mike Haley
14. Andrew Conway
13. Sammy Arnold
12. Rory Scannell
11. Calvin Nash
10. JJ Hanrahan
9. Conor Murray

1. Dave Kilcoyne
2. Niall Scannell
3. Stephen Archer
4. Fineen Wycherley
5. Billy Holland
6. Peter O’Mahony (c)
7. Jack O’Donoghue
8. CJ Stander

Replacements:

16. Kevin O’Byrne
17. Jeremy Loughman
18. John Ryan
19. Arno Botha
20. Jack O’Sullivan
21. Craig Casey
22. Ben Healy
23. Dan Goggin

TEAM NEWS: And a change for Ospreys as well – Scott Williams is out so Dan Evans moves into the centre, Cai Evans now starts at fullback, and Lesley Klim is added to the bench.

Ospreys

15. Cai Evans
14. Hanno Dirksen
13. George North
12. Dan Evans
11. Luke Morgan
10. Luke Price
9. Shaun Venter

1. Nicky Smith
2. Scott Otten
3. Ma’afu Fia
4. Bradley Davies
5. Alun Wyn-Jones
6. Dan Lydiate 
7. Justin Tipuric (captain)
8. Dan Baker

Replacements:

16. Sam Perry
17. Darryl Marfo
18. Gheorghe Gajion
19. Lloyd Ashley
20. Olly Cracknell
21. Sam Cross
22. Reuben Morgan Williams
23. Lesley Klim

So, the markets are predicting a comfortable win for Munster this afternoon, making them 22-point favourites.

What would represent a good day for Johann van Graan’s men in the circumstances?

Here come the teams. It’s a pretty subdued Thomond Park, by the sound of things…

1Mins

KICK OFF: Luke Price and Ospreys get us underway.

2Mins

2 mins – Scrappy start with mistakes on both sides. Ospreys rip the ball from Munster in the tackle but then spill it, allowing Sammy Arnold to kick a grubber down along the line into the Ospreys 22. It comes back inside and sits up nicely for Cai Evans before Andrew Conway can pounce.

5Mins

5 mins – Munster are pinged for not rolling away but before Ospreys can take the penalty, the touch judge on the near side calls for referee Mathieu Raynal’s attention. He’s spotted a neck roll by Bradley Davies on CJ Stander and the penalty is reversed.

7Mins

7 mins – Ospreys out-half Luke Price is down and needs some attention following a thumping hit from Fineen Wycherly. Price flipped the ball back inside to Cai Evans but Wycherly was committed to the tackle and made a big hit. It’s late, but nothing more, in the officials’ eyes. Ospreys penalty just inside the 10m line.

8Mins

8 mins — Munster 0-3 Ospreys (Price pen)

Clean strike from Price who brushes himself off and splits the posts. Ospreys take an early lead.

10Mins

10 mins – Conor Murray tests Hanno Dirksen with a looping box kick but the Ospreys wing is equal to the challenge.

12Mins

11 mins – Andrew Conway heads back to the dressing room for a HIA following a bit hit from George North. Dan Goggin is on in his place in the meantime.

13Mins

13 mins – A messy set of scrums as first, Conor Murray is pinged for delaying his put-in. The sides reset to do it again and then Peter O’Mahony is pinged for reaching into the scrum as the ball looked set to squirm loose. A chance for Price to extend the visitors’ lead.

14Mins

14 mins — Munster 0-6 Ospreys (Price pen)

No mistake. For all of their possession, Munster haven’t really clicked into gear yet.

17Mins

17 mins – Another breakdown penalty against Munster as Stephen Archer is pinged for not rolling away from a ruck in the Ospreys half.

18Mins

18 mins – Tipuric gets a nice clean take off the top of the lineout to set up Venter and Price, but as Ospreys try to move it quickly across the field, Baker’s pass to North is a bit loose and it’s lost forward.

19Mins

19 mins – Nicky Smith gets a big hit on Stephen Archer at the scrum, and it goes down on Archer’s side. Another scrum penalty against Munster; Cai Evans is going to have a go from just inside the Munster half.

20Mins

20 mins – Evans’ effort might have just about had the legs, but not the direction, and it drops right and wide.

23Mins

23 mins – Encouraging flourishes from Munster as Haley wins his own ball back under a big Garryowen, and then Dave Kilcoyne makes a powerful break.

Venter knocks the ball out of Murray’s hands in the tackle, but while the scrum advantage is being played, Murray and Hanrahan appear completely at odds as to what they’re supposed to be doing, which is a bit concerning from a Munster perspective.

24Mins

24 mins – BT Sport report that Andrew Conway has failed his HIA and won’t be returning. Dan Goggin continues on the right wing for Munster.

26Mins

Stephen Larkham says that Chris Farrell was in “a lot of pain this morning” after picking up that knock in training on Friday, which ruled him out. He also confirms Andrew Conway’s failed HIA but doesn’t have any further information to hand.

31Mins

TRY FOR MUNSTER! Munster 7-6 Ospreys (Stander, 31′)

That’s a lot more like it from Munster. Murray rips quick ball off the back of the ruck to Arnold who makes great yards and has the Ospreys defence on the back foot. It’s there again quickly for Murray, who snipes around the side himself and brings it up to within a couple of yards of the line. O’Mahony has the first go and comes up just short, but CJ Stander needs no second invitation.

Hanrahan converts and Munster, who have been bang average, lead.

36Mins

36 mins – Munster have a penalty advantage coming for a seatbelt tackle on Calvin Nash and JJ Hanrahan spots an opportunity. Dan Goggin soars to claim his crossfield kick – that’s a serious jump – and Munster are up within a few yards of the Ospreys line again.

There’s another penalty advantage and that’s ultimately the call, although Munster try to take it quickly, and Mathieu Raynal rules that they’ve done it illegally.

The chance goes a-begging and Ospreys clear from the back of their scrum.

40Mins

TRY FOR MUNSTER! Munster 14-6 Ospreys (Archer, 40′)

Munster run it straight back and Stephen Archer gets the ball onto the post protector from close range. Hanrahan converts with the last kick of the half and the scoreboard, if not the performance, will look a little bit better to Munster on reflection.

41Mins

SECOND HALF: We’re back. One change for Ospreys at the break — Olly Cracknell on for  Justin Tipuric, who needs a HIA.

41Mins

41 mins – Smashing burst from Jack O’Donoghue, and equally smashing jackal and poach from Alun Wyn Jones to force the penalty after O’Donoghue found himself a bit isolated.

43Mins

43 mins – Break in play while Dan Lydiate needs treatment. Justin Tipuric has passed his HIA, BT report, and will be back shortly.

Meanwhile, the reports from Allianz Park are that Billy Vunipola has broken his arm which, if confirmed, would be a huge blow for Eddie Jones and England.

46Mins

46 mins – Ospreys spread it out wide to Hanno Dirksen but Calvin Nash stands him up and, back on his feet, competes legally to force Dirksen to hold on and concede the turnover penalty.

47Mins

TRY FOR MUNSTER! Munster 19-6 Ospreys (Murray, 47′)

Munster have their third! Hanrahan drives the legs to bring Munster up to within striking distance, and then Sammy Arnold must surely think he’s scored, aided by a big latch from Mike Haley who drives him to the line. Ospreys get bodies in the way though but it’s quickly recycled to Murray who has a simple finish in the corner. 

Hanrahan can’t make the tricky conversion, so Munster lead by 13.

53Mins

53 mins – Ospreys have a period with ball in hand but can’t make it pay, spilling possession and then finding themselves on the back foot. Dan Lydiate enters a ruck from the side and it will be a Munster penalty.

54Mins

54 mins – JJ Hanrahan sticks the penalty into the Ospreys 22. Chance here for the fourth try and the bonus point, for what it’s worth.

56Mins

56 mins — TMO – NO TRY! Oh Rory Scannell… after 10+ phases of pressure, Murray sets up Sammy Arnold on a good line and at the last minute, he pops it back to Scannell who is over the line but spills the ball in the act of grounding it. He was under pressure but nonetheless, that’s a chance he should score every time.

58Mins

58 mins – And now Conor Murray is gone off for a HIA; Craig Casey takes over scrum-half duties.

59Mins

TRY FOR MUNSTER! Munster 26-6 Ospreys (Casey, 59′)

And with his second touch of the afternoon — his first being the put-in to the scrum — Craig Casey has Munster’s bonus point try as well as the first of what he’ll hope will be many European tries in red.

The Munster scrum marches forward and Casey picks off the back and snipes down a wide-open blindside, running it back towards the posts to leave Hanrahan with an easier conversion.

64Mins

64 mins – Scrum five to Munster now as the ball is knocked backwards out of Jack O’Donoghue’s hands and it’s touched down in goal by an Ospreys player before Craig Casey can pounce on it for his second of the day.

65Mins

65 mins – And now Craig Casey is off for a HIA after taking an accidental knee to the head. Ben Healy comes on but whether or not he’ll play at 9 rather than his usual 10 remains to be seen. Mike Haley assumes scrum-half duties for this first scrum anyway.

67Mins

67 mins – Conor Murray is back on, much to everyone’s relief.

68Mins

68 mins – Another big chance squandered by Munster. They get a penalty and a chance to kick to touch when George North is pinged for a seatbelt tackle. From the lineout, CJ Stander bulldozes his way through the first line of Ospreys defence, and then as Niall Scannell tries to eke out the final few inches, Luke Price rips the ball from his hands. The replay shows that the tackle might have gone to ground before Price ripped it but Ospreys clear.

74Mins

74 mins – Hanrahan tries a little chip over the top to get the Ospreys defence turned, and although Dirksen collects, Nash is there to drive him back over the line.

75Mins

75 mins – And more good news for Munster as Craig Casey, having passed his HIA, returns to a warm reception as he replaces Conor Murray.

76Mins

76 mins — YELLOW CARD! Mathieu Raynal is not happy with the amount of infringements by Ospreys on their line, and Olly Cracknell is the offender singled out for the bin. The visitors will play the last few minutes with 14.

Flag 78Mins

TRY FOR MUNSTER! Munster 33-6 Ospreys (Stander, 78′)

Another big shove from Munster at the scrum, putting Ospreys’ reduced numbers on the back foot, and Stander picks off the base and drives through the only man in his way, Luke Price, to score.

Hanrahan converts.

So that’s it. Munster run in five tries to finish their Champions Cup campaign with a bonus-point win but really, around these parts, European seasons don’t end in January. 

Conor Murray is named man of the match.

That’s all from us for now but we’ll have more reaction and analysis from this and the rest of the day’s games over the course of the afternoon. Thanks for reading.

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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