Munster are Magners League Champions!
Photo by: PA Archive/Press Association Images
A classy performance from Munster capped off a fine Magners League campaign as they beat Ospreys 36-10 on Friday.
Tries from Paul Warwick, David Wallace (2), Denis Leamy, and Anthony Horgan allowed the Irish province to seal their league triumph in style.
Ospreys did keep the pressure on and made life difficult for the champions elect with James Hook grounding one try, while they had two efforts ruled out by the TMO.
On a night when the home fans were bidding farewell to several players, it was fitting that Tony McGahan's side would produce an entertaining display that had everything which their loyal supporters have become accustomed to in recent years.
Ronan O'Gara got things underway with a successful penalty, but Hook soon brought the scores level with a penalty of his own on 12 minutes.
The first real attack of the game arrived soon after that when Keith Earls chased a long punt and looked to be clipped by Ryan Jones, but the referee waved play on.
That didn't matter though as Paul Warwick got the first try of the night just 60 seconds later when he stepped inside his marker, collected a pass from Doug Howlett, and made his way over the line with ease.
O'Gara sent the conversion over the posts and Munster appeared to be on their way to taking control before a lapse in concentration allowed Hook to wrestle the ball from O'Gara's arms and go through for a try of his own.
The Welsh international got the conversion, but that would be the last score of the night for Ospreys. Munster got another try just before the break with Wallace picking out of a ruck and charging over the whitewash.
After the interval, it was an exhibition of quality rugby from the team in red jerseys. They dominated at the line-out, used their power in the scrum, made several exciting line-breaks, and kept the pressure as they looked to clinch the win.
On 49 minutes, Leamy got his team's third try when he dived for the line under a pile of team-mates. It took the referee just seconds to see that the ball had indeed been grounded by the back rower.
Wallace got his second try when Man of the Match Denis Fogarty offloaded to him on the right wing and he cantered his way past the tired Ospreys defense. He was later sin-binned, but the game was as good as over then.
Some excellent defending from Fogarty and Ian Dowling denied the visitors two tries that they would have felt their performance deserved.
The win was sealed with the best try of the game and it fell to Horgan, who was playing his final game for the club. He cut in from the left, got hold of a superb pass from Kieran Lewis, and raced away to score.
Munster will be disappointed not to have reached the Heineken Cup final, but they have been terrific in the Magners League and fully deserve to be crowned champions.
Munster: P Warwick; D Howlett, K Earls, L Mafi, I Dowling; R O'Gara, P Stringer; F Pucciariello, D Fogarty, T Buckley; M O'Driscoll, P O'Connell [capt]; D Leamy, N Ronan, D Wallace.
Replacements: F Sheahan, Dave Ryan, D O'Callaghan, J O'Sullivan, M Prendergast, A Horgan; K Lewis.
Ospreys: Gareth Owen; Ashley Beck, Sonny Parker, Jonathan Spratt, David Evans; James Hook, Jamie Nutbrown; Paul James, Richard Hibbard, Cai Griffiths; Ian Gough, Andy Lloyd; Ryan Jones [capt], Marty Holah, Filo Tiatia.
Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Duncan Jones, Craig Mitchell, Richard Kelly, Steve Tandy, Rhodri Wells, Dan Biggar.