Munster did what they had to do to make it three wins from the opening four rounds of the Guinness Pro14 with a 28-12 bonus point win over an Ospreys side that refused to go away.
The most enthralling thing about the opening ten minutes was Stuart Berry somehow not handing out a yellow card to Tom Botha for the clothesline tackle on Rory Scannell. We must have missed that law change.
Munster gradually began to exert pressure and when Luke Price knocked the ball on, he fly hacked it backwards into touch. As they were entitled to do, Munster took the more advantageous line out option.
A couple of phases in and Munster worked the short side well. Dan Goggin cut a huge hole in the Ospreys defence and raced clear. With defenders drawing in, Goggin found the in form James Cronin with a superb lofted pass. Cronin crashed over for the try to add to his AIL hat-trick last weekend for Highfield.
Price atoned for his knock on by reducing the deficit to just 1 point after successful penalties in the 31st and 39th minute. Munster would get one last attacking platform with a five metre attacking line out.
The maul was not of the required standard, went to ground and was turned over. It was an unsatisfactory end to a half in which Munster will feel they could have done better.
It took only two minutes of the second half for Munster to add their second try. Sam Cross was sent to the bin for slapping the ball out of Neil Cronin’s hand. Rhys Marshall wasn’t waiting around for Billy Holland to make a decision and took a quick tap penalty before burrowing over from five metres out. Bleyendaal added the extras and Munster led 14-6 with an extra player.
A third Luke Price penalty kept Ospreys within reach but Munster responded superbly with a Mike Haley try. It was a score that had Larkham written all over it. Backs and forwards combining with slick passing and capitalising on the space out wide. Haley’s finish was superb and Bleyendaal added the extras to make it 21-9.
Another baffling refereeing decision followed from Berry but Munster failed to capitalise on ground gained from the penalty.
Price made it 21-12 with his 4th penalty of the game as Munster’s penalty count started to increase under the scrutiny of the hard to fathom South African official.
Munster were now chasing the bonus point and a clever Mike Haley kick from inside his own 22 took a favourable bounce. The Ospreys winger’s clearance was charged down and bounced into touch, five metres out.
Ospreys would clear from the line out but gained little ground and Munster would have a decent foothold in Ospreys territory heading into the last two minutes.
The line out was secured and the subsequent maul was on the money. Four phases later and the bonus point was in the bag. Arno Botha, the man who powered over from 5 metres. 28-12 as Hanrahan added the extras.
All in all a decent game of rugby with plenty of positives for the home side. If they continue to offer up that kind of attacking fare, then a season ticket would be a shrewd investment.