Ospreys crushed in Cork as confidence drains away again
THERE are remote Amazonian tribespeople who have probably heard the old line about there never being a great time to play a rugby match on the road against Munster.
They might also have heard that the challenge becomes especially daunting if the visiting team have lost by the rugby equivalent of an innings in their previous game.
So, it was that the Ospreys headed out to Cork, just days after been thrashed by Glasgow Warriors in Swansea.
Logic suggested it wouldn’t end well.
And the Ospreys couldn’t defy logic.
Flanker Will Jones battled hard for them, scoring a try on his full league debut; Jeff Hassler also touched down and James King, Olly Cracknell and Kieron Fonotia caught the eye.
But they are a team shorn of confidence and were unable to prevent five-try Munster banking a bonus-point win.
There was late defiance from the visitors, but it wasn’t enough. Nowhere near enough.
They had trailed 24-5 at the break after a first-half shot through with errors.
The mistakes started when Sam Davies’s low-trajectory kick was charged down and the visitors were forced to concede a penalty.
Teenage flanker Jones then found himself yellow-carded on his full league debut.
The 18-year-old was pinged for head-rolling his opposite number Chris Cloete “with force”, according to referee Ben Whitehouse.
Cloete immediately went looking for retribution, but he picked on the wrong bloke because Jones is a European junior judo champion and the South African rapidly found himself on the back foot once again. Whitehouse duly carded Jones.
Munster made the Ospreys pay with quick tries from Sam Arnold – after a botched Ospreys line-out – and Darren Sweetnam.
And when Cloete went over from close range, taking advantage of lax defence, it was suddenly 24-0 and a long way back for the visitors.
Jones showed up with his aggression and strength over the ball in contact. On another tough night for the Ospreys, his effort at least suggested some hope for the future.
Hassler crossed before the break, profiting from a break down the left from Fonotia, but the Welsh side were soon lining up beneath the posts early in the second half when Rory Scannell crossed after a flowing attack.
And when Jack O’Donoghue ploughed over after the ball was moved from a ruck, the only question was whether the Ospreys could claw back a measure of pride in the final 20 minutes.
Credit them: they did score for a second time when the deserving Jones went over.
But at no stage had the result ever been in doubt. MUNSTER: Tries: S. Arnold, D. Sweetnam, C. Cloete, R. Scannell, J. O’Donoghue. Cons: I. Keatley (5). Pens: I. Keatley. OSPREYS: Tries: J. Hassler, W. Jones.
Chris Cloete of Munster and Will Jones of Ospreys get up close and personal in last night’s clash