The Ospreys travelled to Thomond Park Stadium to take on an out of sorts Munster in Saturday evening’s RaboDirect PRO12 match. With both sides in 5th and 6th place, a win was crucial for either teams hopes of still making the play offs.
The Welsh region, with a severely depleted squad to choose from, did have the benefit of Alun Wyn Jones and the return of Ashley Beck to call upon. Munster had old heads Ronan O’Gara and Doug Howlett to bring much needed experience to a young side, which saw scrum half Sheridan gain his first start.
The first half was abrasive and exciting yet errors and crucial times prevented both sides from gaining any momentum to press home an advantage.
It was down to both kickers to get the points for their teams and both entered the break with a 100% record, with the scores tied 6-6.
The second half saw Munster score first with a try from Varley that O’Gara duly converted. All of their good work was undone however by a soft yellow card to Archer for taking an Ospreys player out off the ball.
It took the Ospreys just two minutes to take advantage with a driving maul from a lineout 5 metres out to send Jonathan Thomas crashing over. Morgan converted.
The last quarter of the match was end to end, both sides desperate to get the next score that was looking likely that it would win the game. Munster were pressing deep into Ospreys’ territory when their best back move of the match was cut short by an agonising knock on from Laulala.
In the dying seconds Munster had the ball again and pushed further into the Ospreys’ 22. Panic set in however and they passed the ball to O’Gara who attempted a long range and speculative drop goal which went wide, signalling the end of the match with the scores still tied.
It was an improvement for Munster over what they had shown in their last few games, and for the Ospreys it was a very disciplined display by a very inexperienced squad away from home. With the points split, both sides still remain outside of the play offs and it remains to be seen just how costly, or important, this draw will be.
Full time: Munster 13 – 13 Ospreys
Munster: F Jones; D Howlett capt, C Laulala, J Downey, D Hurley; R O’Gara, C Sheridan; D Kilcoyne, D Varley, S Archer; I Nagle, B Holland; P Butler, T O’Donnell, J Coughlan
Replacements: M Sherry for Varley (60), W du Preez for Kilcoyne (63), BJ Botha for Archer (61), D Foley for Nagle (61), D Williams for Sheridan (60), I Keatley for Jones (71).
Not used : S Dougall, I Dineen.
Ospreys: Richard Fussell: Tom Habberfield, Jonathan Spratt, Ashley Beck, Tom Isaacs; Matthew Morgan, Kahn Fotuali’i; Duncan Jones, Scott Baldwin, Cai Griffiths, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Lloyd Peers, James King, Sam Lewis, Jonathan Thomas.
Replacements: Marc Thomas for D Jones (57), Dmitri Arhip for Griffiths (60).
Not used: Matthew Dwyer, Ian Gough, Dan Baker, Arthur Ellis, Rhys Webb, Tom Grabham.