Munster’s Simon Zebo celebrates scoring their first try. Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Job Done

Munster see off Ospreys to book place in URC semi-finals

Graham Rowntree’s men will play Glasgow or the Stormers in Limerick next Saturday.

Munster 23

Ospreys 7

MUNSTER CAN LOOK forward to a home URC semi-final after Graham Rowntree’s side had too much for a stubborn Ospreys team at Thomond Park.

Simon Zebo and Niall Scannell scored converted tries as Munster took a 10-point lead into half-time, with two second half penalties from Jack Crowley enough to see them over the line in this quarter-final clash. Ospreys’ only points of the night came in the opening stages, with Munster holding their visitors scoreless after Keelan Giles’ converted try in the fourth minute.

The defending champions will now be back in Limerick for a home semi-final at 6pm next Saturday to take on the winners of tomorrow’s clash between Glasgow and the Stormers in Scotland.

This wasn’t the most complete Munster performance of the season, with their attack lacking a clinical edge after a superb start and some of their breakdown work sluggish.

Still, they rarely looked troubled against an Ospreys side who saw their challenge fade after a lively opening 40 minutes. 

The province have now won 10 league games in a row for the first time since their title winning run in 2010/11.

Munster flew out the traps, slotting straight into their slick attacking game to score a brilliant opening try after just 90 seconds.

Moving through the phases, the hosts threatened down the left flank with a strong carry from John Hodnett before switching the ball across the Ospreys defence, with Zebo peeling off Gavin Coombes to take a pass from the number eight, skip past Giles and score.

As Jack Crowley added the extras from the tee, the 14,000 Munster supporters in attendance turned to each other and asked if Zebo should be doing another year with the province.

calvin-nash-breaks Munster’s Calvin Nash breaks. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

It was the ideal start but Ospreys pulled level just two minutes later. A chip over the top from Reuben Morgan-Williams opened up the pitch and from there the visitors struck in a flash – Owen Watkin and Morgan Morris combining beautifully before Giles ran home to make amends for his earlier missed tackle, with Owen Williams adding the conversion.

From there a fascinating forward battle unfolded, with Munster’s maul dominant and the Ospreys getting joy in the early scrum battles.

Munster’s maul provided the source for their second try approaching 20 minutes. 

With the Ospreys threatening in the Munster half after a scrum penalty win, Tadhg Beirne came up with a big turnover to alleviate the pressure and allow his team turn defence into attack.

From a lineout in the Ospreys 22 Munster went close without success before another penalty came their way. At the second attempt Munster’s maul ate up ground before Niall Scannell broke loose and dumped Keiran Williams over the line on his way to scoring, with Crowley again on target with his conversion.

Munster continued to enjoy the best of the territory, Shane Daly denied a wonder-try after his soccer-style touch in behind was gobbled up by an Ospreys defender. 

The Ospreys were causing problems of their own with ball in hand but their discipline was proving costly, and with the penalty count rising Crowley pointed to the posts to add three points with just under half an hour played.

The final 10 minutes of the half saw Ospreys repeatedly go close, only to be denied by some excellent Munser defending. An attack off the lineout down the blindside was ended by Jeremy Loughman reading the play well to tackle Dewi Lake into touch.

Minutes later, Loughman combined with Stephen Archer to drive the Ospreys back five metres after Munster initially did well to hold them up on the line.

morgan-morris-tackles-jack-crowley Ospreys' Morgan Morris tackles Jack Crowley. Ben Brady / INPHO Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

Ospreys’ last chance of the half came and went as Munster won another penalty at the scrum, the home side surviving a lost lineout near halfway to go in 10-points up at the break.

The second period played out at a much slower pace. Munster went close to adding a third try only to be frustrated by a stubborn Ospreys defence, with the Welsh side winning a scrum penalty five metres out shortly after Munster had refreshed their front row with Oli Jager and returning hooker Diarmuid Barron. 

When Munster won a penalty under the posts approaching the hour mark, Crowley gladly opted for posts to add the first points of the second half.

Two minutes later Ospreys were pinged again at the ruck, and from the 40m line another Crowley penalty pushed his team 16 points clear.

Crowley then lined up another kick from near halfway but this time, his effort dropped short. It wasn’t the type of night where it would prove costly.

Munster played out the remainder of the game in the Ospreys half and while they will be disappointed not to cause more problems with their attack, knockout rugby is all about getting the job done. 

The defending champions march into the last four.

Munster scorers:

Tries – Zebo, Scannell

Penalties – Crowley [3/3]

Conversions – Crowley [2/3]

Ospreys scorers:

Try – Giles

Conversion – O Williams [1/1]

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo (Mike Haley, 54); Calvin Nash, Antoine Frisch (Tony Butler,, 69), Seán O’Brien, Shane Daly; Jack Crowley, Craig Casey (Conor Murray, 59); Jeremy Loughman (John Ryan, 62), Niall Scannell (Diarmuid Barron, 47), Stephen Archer (Oli Jager, 47); RG Snyman, Tadhg Beirne (capt); Peter O’Mahony (Jack O’Donoghue, 47), John Hodnett (Alex Kendellen, 62), Gavin Coombes.

OSPREYS: Max Nagy (Harri Houston, 71); Luke Morgan, Owen Watkin, Keiran Williams, Keelan Giles (Luke Scully, 80); Owen Williams, Reuben Morgan-Williams (Luke Davies, 69); Nicky Smith (Gareth Thomas, 55), Dewi Lake (Sam Parry, 65), Tom Botha (Rhys Henry, 55); James Ratti, Huw Sutton (Victor Sekekete, 71); Jac Morgan, Justin Tipuric (capt), Morgan Morris (Morgan Morse, 75).

Referee: Hollie Davidson [Scotland].

Attendance: 14,072

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