Pro12 semi-final: Munster 21-18 Ospreys
Last updated on .From the section Rugby Union
|Munster (11) 21|
|Tries: Zebo, Hurley, Butler Pens: Keatley 2|
|Ospreys (3) 18|
|Tries: Webb, Hassler: Cons: Biggar Pens: Biggar 2|
Munster set up a Pro12 final against Glasgow as they won a thrilling match against the Ospreys at Thomond Park.
Josh Matavesi looked to have won it for the Ospreys in injury-time but his try was ruled out for a Rhys Webb knock on.
Tries from Simon Zebo and Denis Hurley either side of half-time had put Munster 16-3 ahead.
Webb's 46th-minute try gave the Ospreys hope and while Paddy Butler added a third for Munster, Jeff Hassler's superb score ensured a frantic finish.
Hassler ran through the Munster defence from the halfway line to score his magnificent individual try in the 53rd minute and after Dan Biggar added the conversion, another penalty from the fly-half brought the Ospreys to within three points of Munster's 21-point haul, but they could not make further headway.
Keatley, on two occasions, and his replacement JJ Hanrahan squandered straightforward penalty chances which would have settled the nerves of the home support.
And those misses appeared to have been punished in the first few seconds of injury-time as Matavesi finished off an over-lap to run in what the Ospreys thought was the winning score.
But referee Nigel Owens asked for a video replay and it showed that Webb had knocked on at the base of a ruck earlier in the play.
The relief seen in the facial expressions of Munster lock Paul O'Connell and his team-mates was palpable as most of Thomond Park appeared to have been convinced that the Ospreys had claimed victory.
In what may turn out to be O'Connell's final home game for Munster the Ospreys took the game to the hosts with some strong running.
Eli Walker went close to running in an Ospreys try in one of a number of attacks before Biggar kicked the visitors into a 3-0 lead.
Munster responded as their industrious efforts yielded two successful penalties for Keatley.
The home side looked to have delivered decisive blows either side of half-time as Zebo's try was followed by a Hurley score as he pushed through Walker's weak tackle.
However, the Ospreys responded immediately as Webb intercepted an attempted pass from CJ Stander to Zebo at the back of a scrum.
Butler's immediate touchdown at the other end appeared to have re-established Munster's superiority but the Ospreys retaliated straight away as Hassler picked up Zebo's grubber kick on halfway and charged straight through the home defence.
As Munster appeared to be desperately searching for the finishing line, Biggar's 69th-minute penalty left the Ospreys only three points behind their rivals' total.
Ian Keatley (twice) and Hanrahan missed chances with the boot to extend the home side's lead.
The last act of this dramatic encounter came after Ospreys replacement Marc Thomas's burst upfield, but television match official Gareth Simmonds ruled - correctly it appeared - that Webb had knocked on prior to Matavesi touching down.
Munster: Jones; Earls, Smith, Hurley, Zebo; Keatley, Murray; Kilcoyne, Guinazu, Archer; D Ryan, O'Connell; P O'Mahony (capt), Butler, Stander.
Replacements: R O'Mahony for Zebo 67 mins, Hanrahan for Keatley 74, Williams for Murray 16, J Ryan for Kilcoyne 72, Casey for Guinazu 72, Botha for Archer 52, Holland for P O'Mahony 44.
Not Used: O'Donoghue.
Ospreys: Evans; Hassler, John, Matavesi, Walker; Biggar, Webb; Smith, Baldwin, Arhip; Ardron, Wyn Jones (capt) Lydiate, Tipuric, Baker.
Replacements: Spratt for Biggar 76, M Thomas for Baldwin 55, Jarvis for Arhip 57, Thornton for Ardron 66, King for Lydiate 42, Parry for Baldwin, S Davies for D Evans
Not Used: Habberfield
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Leighton Hodges, Ian Davies (both WRU)
Citing Commissioner: TBC (SRU)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (WRU)