Munster grabbed their third win of the Magners League campaign as Jeremy Manning booted all but five of their points in Saturday's 25-20 defeat of the Ospreys.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, November 25
MUNSTER 25 OSPREYS 20, Thomond Park (Att: 6,254)
Scorers: Munster: Try: James Coughlan; Con: Jeremy Manning; Pens: Manning 5; Drop: Manning
Ospreys: Tries: Shaun Connor, Jonny Vaughton; Cons: Connor 2; Pens: Connor 2
Munster ended a run of three successive defeats in the Magners League as their second-string side dug deep to deny the Ospreys at Thomond Park. Minus their international contingent, Declan Kidney's men saw off the Welsh visitors with young New Zealand-born out-half Manning rasping over 15 points with his right boot.
The 21-year-old was on fire, helping Munster into an early 15-0 lead and converting number eight James Coughlan's try before the break. However, the Ospreys' forwards got on top for the early part of the second half and Shaun Connor kicked his team to a deserved bonus point.
Munster came into the game having lost five of their last six fixtures against Welsh opposition. They were lifeless in Llanelli a fortnight ago, but with Manning and Tomas O'Leary pulling the strings at half-back and both Trevor Halstead and Lifeimi Mafi punching holes in midfield, they managed to boss the first quarter.
Manning cracked over three penalties inside the first 20 minutes, with his second strike a peach from just inside the Ospreys' half. Connor missed a lengthy effort in reply and with possession hard to come by, Justin Marshall cut a frustrated figure.
Gradually though, the former All Black began to wield some influence. A smash-and-grab drop goal worked a treat for Manning, who added his fourth penalty on 27 minutes to put the hosts two converted tries clear.
Then Marshall made his mark - the 33-year-old scrum half took a quick tap, scattered the Munster defence and popped off for his countryman Jason Spice, who lined out at inside centre, to send Connor scurrying over for a well-worked try.
Connor converted, yet Munster ended the half armed with a 22-7 advantage as just into injury-time, Coughlan plunged over on the end of a five-metre scrum for his first provincial try.
The Ospreys got back within range just five minutes into the second half. A sweet inside pass from Tal Selley sent winger Jonny Vaughton darting through for his first try of the league campaign.
Yellow cards for Spice and Federico Pucciariello - the Munster prop was left bloodied after a clash with Brent Cockbain - disrupted the pattern of the game, but Manning cooled matters with his fifth penalty.
The final quarter saw Connor pocket two more penalties but they was not enough to prevent a far-from-clinical Munster from holding on for their third win in seven league meetings with the Welsh region.
The win moves Munster to within two points of ninth-placed Glasgow. Kidney's charges, with their internationals back in tow, are at home to Connacht next Sunday (Thomond Park, kick-off 5pm).
...A flying Lyndon Bateman tries to stop man-of-the-match Jeremy Manning...
TIME LINE: 2 minutes - Munster penalty: Jeremy Manning - 3-0; 13 mins - Munster penalty: Jeremy Manning - 6-0; 18 mins - Munster penalty: Jeremy Manning - 9-0; 24 mins - Munster drop goal: Jeremy Manning - 12-0; 27 mins - Munster penalty: Jeremy Manning - 15-0; 33 mins - Ospreys try: Shaun Connor - 15-5; conversion: Shaun Connor - 15-7; 40+2 mins - Munster try: James Coughlan - 20-7; conversion: Jeremy Manning - 22-7; Half-time - Munster 22 Ospreys 7; 45 mins - Ospreys try: Jonny Vaughton - 22-12; conversion: Shaun Connor - 22-14; 53 mins - Munster yellow card: Federico Pucciariello; 60 mins - Ospreys yellow card: Jason Spice; 60 mins - Munster penalty: Jeremy Manning - 25-14; 67 mins - Ospreys penalty: Shaun Connor - 25-17; 76 mins - Ospreys penalty: Shaun Connor - 25-20; Full-time - Munster 25 Ospreys 20
Munster: Shaun Payne; Anthony Horgan, Lifeimi Mafi, Trevor Halstead, Ian Dowling; Jeremy Manning, Tomas O'Leary; Darragh Hurley, Andy Kyriacou, Federico Pucciariello, Mick O'Driscoll (capt), Chris Wyatt, Alan Quinlan, Tim McGann, James Coughlan.
Replacements used: Frankie Roche for Coughlan (62-68 mins), Donnacha Ryan for Wyatt (76), Eoghan Hickey for Manning, John O'Sullivan for Coughlan (both 80+2), Barry Murphy for Dowling (80+5). Not used: Tony Buckley, Brian O'Meara.
Ospreys: Stefan Terblanche; Nikki Walker, Tai Selley, Jason Spice, Jonny Vaughton; Shaun Connor, Justin Marshall; Paul James (capt), Barry Williams, Andrew Millward, Mike Powell, Lyndon Bateman, Andy Lloyd, Steve Tandy, Filo Tiatia.
Replacements used: Cai Griffiths for James (40+2 mins), Brent Cockbain for Powell (48), Jonathan Spratt for Tandy (61), Lee Beach for Lloyd (75), Lloyd for Tiatia (80). Not used: Huw Bennett, Richard Pugh, Lee Byrne.
Toyota man-of-the-match: Jeremy Manning (Munster)
Referee: Ian Heard (Scotland)