Magners League - Game of the Week
Ospreys upset Munster at Thomond
April 24, 2010
Ospreys No.10 Dan Biggar kicked his side to a first ever win over Munster at Thomond Park
© PA Photos
The Ospreys moved into second place in the Magners League table by edging out Munster 15-11 in a fiercely competitive encounter in Limerick on Saturday evening.
The Welsh region had never won at Thomond Park before but they were good value for a victory which leaves them with an excellent chance of securing a home draw in the end-of-season play-offs. Ronan O'Gara scored the only try of the game, in the closing stages, but the Ireland fly-half was outshone in the goal-kicking stakes by his opposite number Dan Biggar, who didn't miss a single strike on goal.
In the end the difference between the sides was not the accuracy of the their respective fly-halves but hunger. Only in the final quarter when they realised that the game was slipping away from them did Munster, perhaps distracted by next week's Heineken Cup showdown with Biarritz, look like their usual determined selves. The Ospreys, by contrast, were bullish and belligerent from the off.
In saying that, Munster had had the better of what was a desperately underwhelming opening 40 minutes. O'Gara opened the scoring 11 minutes in after Adam Jones had been pinged for not binding in the scrum and the hosts produced the best break of the half when David Wallace burst through the middle only to see the move ultimately peter out after Scott Deasy, who impressed every time he got his hands on the ball, was swallowed up by the scrambling Ospreys defence after being forced inside.
However, the visitors were in no mood to capitulate as in years gone by and after O'Gara had squandered what looked like a relatively easy three-pointer, Biggar restored parity with a penalty on 23 minutes after Marcus Horan had been guilty of not releasing.
O'Gara missed another straightforward kick on goal moments later and Biggar showed him how it was done once more when he converted from 35 metres out after Quinlan had infringed at the breakdown.That proved the final score of a half blighted by unforced handling errors. In fairness to the players, the slippery conditions were certainly a factor in that regard, but there was no doubting the fact that both sides were playing well below their best.
Happily, the quality improved after the restart. The Ospreys certainly upped their intensity after the restart and were rewarded with three more penalties from the boot of Biggar which helped them into a commanding 15-3 advantage. The third of those scores came just seconds after James Coughlan had been yellow carded for hands in the ruck. Munster appeared there for the taking but, as they have done so often in the past, the two-time Heineken Cup champions rallied superbly and actually managed to reduce their arrears while down to 14 men, O'Gara splitting the sticks after Holah had been somewhat harshly penalised for not releasing.
O'Gara should have cut Munster's deficit to just six points just after the hour but he inexplicably hit the post from 20 metres out and just to the right of the posts. However, the British & Irish Lion made amends on 71 minutes when he jinked his way over after a sweeping Munster move featuring sumptuous passes from Lifeimi Mafi and Tom Gleeson had taken Deasy to within five metres of the Ospreys line.
Crucially, though, O'Gara failed to add the extras and that meant that Munster had to go for a try in the remaining nine minutes. They came desperately close to attaining one but some terrific Ospreys defensive work, most notably crunching tackles from Tommy Bowe and Ryan Bevington on Jean de Villiers and Mick O'Driscoll, ultimately saw them home.
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