Munster (0) 18 – 11 (0) Ospreys, Limerick, 14 May 2011, 18:30pm
13min (M) Ronan O’Gara pen
32min (M) Danny Barnes try
37min (O) Dan Bigger pen
48min (M) O Gara pen
55min (O) Bigger pen
57min (M) Barners try
58min (M) O Gara conversation
79min (O) Fussell try
Two tries from 21 year old centre Danny Barnes sent Munster into the last ever Magners League grand final where they’ll face their favourite foes in Thomond Park, Leinster.
Barnes was only included in the starting line-up because of the absence of the hamstrung Sam Tuitupou. But the young Kerryman made the most of the big-game opportunity with a score in each half teeing his side up for a 18 – 11 victory.
The Ospreys, though still strong on paper, are a team far removed from the outfit which claimed the title at the RDS last year, they are disintegrating. Star names –Tommy Bowe excluded – are either on the wane or on the move and for 80 minutes here, they looked incapable of offering a real threat. Rarely putting together any meaningful phases together outside of their own half.
Munster were never going to repeat the flaccid Amlin semi-final display against Harlequins. They showed real intent from the off, quick tapping an early (kickable) penalty. After 12 phases of quick ball Keith Earls knocked on in the tackle with Doug Howlett screaming for the pass outside.
With Dan Biggar rumoured to be in Munster’s sights as a long-term replacement for O’Gara, there was an interesting cameo between the two after 10 minutes: The old stager hoisted a high Garryowen high above Biggar and, as the less experienced pivot collected on the edge of his 22, O’Gara – less than renowned for his tackling prowess – smashed him, forcing a knock on, a scrum and ultimately an easy penalty for the hosts.
A more difficult kick hit the post minutes later as the black penalty count began to rise. Lifemi Mafi made further inroads down the right wing, but the star studded Welsh defence held on.
But they could do no more than that. By the time Barnes scored his try after thirty minutes the visitors had only fashioned one scoring chance: A wayward Damien Varley throw allowing James Hook an equally inaccurate attempt at a drop goal.
When the Munster pressure finally paid, there was tangible relief in Thomond. On the left, David Wallace looked set for a trademark steamroll over the line but was held up short. As was the sniping Conor Murray, denied by Tommy Bowe.
The old heads remained patient, again working through the phases and eventually everything came into place, inevitably Earls, Jones and Howlett all got a touch before the space appeared in the right corner for Barnes to stretch the lead.
O’Gara missed the angled conversion and the young pretender to his jersey nailed a 40 meter score to narrow the gap to 8 – 3 at the break. This, despite Munster going back and giving the Ospreys try line another battering, with Wallace held up this time thanks to Biggar’s determined stranglehold on the ball.
There was little difference after the turnaround. Munster still held all the territory but lacked some small spark of imagination or an extra ounce of physicality. As long as they had the ball though, Ospreys were vulnerable.
Nigel Owens issued another ‘final’ warning before O’Gara missed another penalty. But he was soon given an easier chance as Owens, true to his word, sent Richard Hibbard back to the sideline as quick as he left it and entered the side of the first ruck he saw.
The yellow brandished their way appeared to focus the 14 Ospreys. They finally found some sustained time in enemy territory and another three-pointer. But this was a day for Barnes to remember. The New Zealand born centre’s second score came after a getting a firm block down on Richard Fussell’s clearance kick, he collected for an easy run under the bin.
Munster never needed to be at their very best, and a little more accuracy from ROG’s right boot would have made the scoreboard much less misleading.
Fussell made some amends for his mistake, getting on the end of Biggar’s grubber to ground a consolation score with a minute remaining. One minute turned into an extra five of worrying for Tony McGahan when it should all have been done and dusted.
The southern province will have the time to regroup, rethink and re-energise before Leinster come calling. But by that time the Blues could have equalled their tally of two Heineken Cups and Munster will need to dig deep again to match them and show how much that European statistic hurts them.
This year the Magners League final will be unmissable, shame it’s the last one.
MUNSTER: F Jones; D Howlett, D Barnes, L Mafi, K Earls; R O’Gara, C Murray; M Horan, D Varley, J Hayes; D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell (capt); D Ryan, D Wallace, J Coughlan.
Replacements: M Sherry (Varley ’56), W du Preez (Horan ’56) S Archer (Hayes ‘62), D Leamy (Coughlan ’61) N Ronan (Leamy ’74) P Stringer (Murray ’56) P Warwick, S Zebo (Barnes ’74).
OSPREYS: R Fussell; T Bowe, A Bishop, J Hook, N Walker; D Biggar, R Webb; P James, H Bennett, A Jones, I Gough, A W Jones (capt), R Jones, J Tipuric, J Thomas.
Replacements: R Hibbard (Bennett ’46) R Bevington, C Griffiths, J Collins (Gough ’46) T Smith, M Holah, T Isaacs (Webb ’54) A Beck (for Hook ‘38).
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales
80 mins Full Time After five an a half mins of injury time Munster defeat Ospreys to set up a huge Magners League final showdown with Leinster on Saturday week.
79 mins Try Ospreys Tommy Bowe sends grubber kick through for Fussell. Bigger missed the conversation
78 mins Paul O Connell gets Magners man of the match. Well deserved
77 mins Ospreys continue to be forced back by the Munster defence
75 mins Danny Barnes also off. He can be pleased with his night’s work
74 mins Tommy Bowe knocks the ball on. Ospreys have been very poor tonight. Denis Leamy has gone off.
72 mins Keith Earls makes good break. Munster are looking to finish Ospreys off.
70 mins Almost another try for Munster. Wonderful play for Maifi almost sent Howlett over.
69 mins Game becoming scrappy. Mistakes been made on both sides. Munster still look more likely to score next
67 mins Good play from Felix Jones and Danny Barnes. Both have had good performances so far
64 mins Yet another collapsed scrum. It’s becoming a farce at this stage
63 mins Howlett makes good break for Munster. Tommy Bowe comes to Ospreys rescue with some good covering defence
60 mins Ospreys now back to 15 players
59 mins Great play from Munster. Steam rolling past Ospreys. David Wallace almost over for his first try. Munster on fire at the moment. Denis Leamy now on.
57 mins Try Munster Danny Barnes gets his second try of the game. O Gara tack on the extras. 18-6 Munster
55 mins Dan Bigger nails pen. Mike Sherry. Du Preez and Stringer all on for Munster
54 mins Munster defence holding strong. They give a penalty away. Ref issues final warning to Munster forwards. Pen Ospreys
53 mins Jerry Collins kicks the ball away for no reason. O Gara clears his lines. Stringer coming on for Munster
52 mins Ospreys in Munster 22. Going through the phases
50 mins Tommy Bowe finally gets involved. Put to ground by a huge hit from Ronan O Gara
48 mins O Gara nails the penalty. 11-3 Munster
47 mins Sin bin for Ospreys. Richard Hibbert shown yellow for holding up play. The yellow card has been coming. Pen for Munster
45 mins Missed kick from O Gara. Ball fell short of the mark.
45 mins Munster keep taking the game to Ospreys. Pen for Munster. O Gara to go for the 3 points
43 mins Munster go through the gears. Damien Varley pinged for a double movement while in Ospreys 22
41 mins Munster start well. Good play by Maifi. Osperys give away yet another pen. O Gara opts for the corner
41 mins Second half underway. Can Munster convert their pressure into points? Ospreys can’t be as bad as they were in the first half.
Half time Half time here in Thomand Park. Munster have dominated the game except on the scoreboard. They lead 8-3.
40 mins Scrum is a mess on both sides. Ref is loosing his cool with both teams
39 mins Scrum for Munster five meters from Ospreys line
36 mins Penalty Ospreys Great kick from Dan Bigger gets Ospreys off the mark
36 mins Hands in the ruck from Munster. Penalty chance for Ospreys.
35 mins Great defence from Munster results in turnover and pen to Munster.
34 mins Ospreys loose another lineout. Scrappy play from the Welsh side
32 mins Try Munster . Some great play from the Munster forwards. The ball was worked wide to Danny Barnes who crossed for a well deserved try.
28 mins Munster taking the game to Ospreys. David Wallace making huge yards and tackles
22 mins Felix Jones makes great break. Munster go through the phases.
20 mins Munster steal Ospreys lineout. Both teams playing well but making silly errors
19 mins O Gara misses kick at goal.
Penalty for Munster. Ian Goff pinged for taking man out of the air in the lineout
16 mins Scrum for Munster in Ospreys 22. Good scrum results in penalty for Munster. They go for the corner.
15 mins More good play for Munster. Maifi should have scored try. Chose to pass to Howlet when he should have gone himself. Pass blocked by Ospreys defence.
13 mins First score 3-0 Munster. O Gara pen
13 mins Ospreys give pen away at scrum. Ref moves the pen 10 yards forward.
13 minsNigel Owens laying down the law to both packs. Six incomplete scrums in opening 12 mins
12 mins Scrum Munster just outside Ospreys 22
11 mins O Gara puts up a great up and under. Well fielded by Tommy Bowe
10 mins Great kick from O Gara from his own 22 brings play into Ospreys half
9 mins James Hook misses easy drop goal attempt
7 mins Good kick from Dan Bigger to release pressure on Ospreys
4 mins Munster give pen away in Ospreys 22
3 mins Good play from Munster. 13 phases of play before Keith Earls spilled the ball yards from the line.
2 mins Munster win first scrum. No bind from Ospreys
0 mins. Teams are just about to take the field can Munster defeat Ospreys and make it an all Ireland Magners League final?
1 min. Game has kicked off in front of a sparse crowd in Thomand Park.
0min Munster make 9 changes from the side that beat Connacht, 2 are positional with Danny Barnes moving to 13 after playing 12 agains the Westeners, while the inclusion of Donnacha O’Callaghan see’s Donnacha Ryan moved to the back row with Dennis Leamy moving to the bench. The most significant inclusion is that of Paul O’Connell. You can read the Preview here
The winner of tonight’s game will play Leinster after they beat Ulster last night, report here
F Jones; D Howlett, D Barnes, L Mafi, K Earls; R O’Gara, C Murray; M Horan, D Varley, J Hayes; D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell capt; D Ryan, D Wallace, J Coughlan.
Replacements: M Sherry, W du Preez, S Archer, D Leamy, N Ronan, P Stringer, P Warwick, S Zebo.
R Fussell; T Bowe; A Bishop; J Hook; N Walker; D Biggar; R Webb; P James; H Bennett; A Jones; I Gough; A Jones (Capt); R Jones; J Tipuric; J Thomas
Replacements:R Hibbard; R Bevington; C Griffiths; J Collins; T Smith; M Holah; T Isaacs; A Beck