Jump to main content


RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Ospreys v Munster

RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Ospreys v Munster

Munster venture back to the scene of last May’s heavy RaboDirect PRO12 semi-final defeat to the Ospreys, as they look to put one over on the reigning champions and finish off what has been a very positive September for Rob Penney’s men.

RABODIRECT PRO12: Saturday, September 29

OSPREYS (8th) v MUNSTER (2nd), Liberty Stadium, 6.30pm (live RTÉ Two/S4C)

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

Team News: Denis Hurley will start at full-back for Munster against the Ospreys on Saturday, having recovered from the bout of tonsillitis that sidelined hom for the Newport Gwent Dragons game.

Head coach Rob Penney has made six changes in personnel for the visit to the defending league champions the Ospreys, who gave Munster a 45-10 beating when the sides clashed in Swansea in last May’s semi-final.

Ireland international Conor Murray will make his first start of the season after being a try-scoring replacement against the Dragons.

Murray replaces Peter Stringer at scrum half with the fit-again Hurley and New Zealander Casey Laulala also returning to the starting back-line at full-back and inside centre respectively.

Marcus Horan and BJ Botha make way in the front row for Wian du Preez and Stephen Archer, while Tommy O’Donnell, another of the try scorers against the Dragons, has earned a start at blindside flanker in place of David O’Callaghan.

Donnacha Ryan and Peter O’Mahony are included in a matchday squad for the first time this season, and will hope to have an influence off the bench.

Penney is hoping for another positive result for his side as they build towards the start of the Heineken Cup next month.

“So far I think we’re happy where we are. If you take the results and you think about where the team is going, in terms of the rugby stuff that is being delivered, I am over the moon.

“The bonus on the back of that positivity is that we were able to get some results in the early part of the competition, which is all good.”

The scrum is an area that the New Zealander would like to see improvements in on Saturday evening, adding: “When we get our scrum right, we’re fine, I think there is some technique stuff that teams bring to a game that can be a bit disconcerting.

“We’re focusing on us and there are parts of our game we need to get better with. Looking through the whole tournament, there are challenges at scrum time.”

Of the players currently ruled out through injury, former captain Paul O’Connell tops that list. Johne Murphy (knee), Felix Jones (shoulder), Luke O’Dea (ankle), Sean Scanlon (back), Ivan Dineen (stomach), Troy Smith (knee), James Coughlan (groin) and Ian Nagle (shoulder) are also currently out of contention.

Meanwhile, Wales and Lions prop Adam Jones is set to make his first appearance of the season for the Ospreys having been named on their bench for the Munster match.

The experienced tighthead has recovered from a knee injury, with the fit-again Ashley Beck restored to the region’s starting line-up at inside centre.

There are a number of changes to the Ospreys side that earned a derby win over the Scarlets. Beck’s return from a pelvic injury sees Tom Isaacs move to the left wing and Tom Grabham drops out of the squad.

Ryan Bevington has been restored to loosehead prop for his 50th league appearance for the champions, with hooker Richard Hibbard hitting the century mark on the night.

Former Wales captain Ryan Jones is the only change in the back row, slotting in at blindside flanker with George Stowers, who was found not guilty of an alleged high tackle in the Scarlets game, listed among the replacements.

OSPREYS: Richard Fussell; Hanno Dirksen, Andrew Bishop, Ashley Beck, Tom Isaacs; Dan Biggar, Kahn Fotuali’i; Ryan Bevington, Richard Hibbard, Aaron Jarvis, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Ian Evans, Ryan Jones, Justin Tipuric, Joe Bearman.

Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Duncan Jones, Adam Jones, Jonathan Thomas, George Stowers, Rhys Webb, Matthew Morgan, Ross Jones.

MUNSTER: Denis Hurley; Doug Howlett (capt), Keith Earls, Casey Laulala, Simon Zebo; Ronan O’Gara, Conor Murray; Wian du Preez, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer, Donncha O’Callaghan, Billy Holland, Tommy O’Donnell, Niall Ronan, Paddy Butler.

Replacements: Damien Varley, David Kilcoyne, BJ Botha, Donnacha Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Peter Stringer, Ian Keatley, James Downey.

Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Rhys Thomas, Greg Morgan (both Wales)
Television Match Official: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ospreys to win: -; Draw: -; Munster to win:

Pre-Match Quotes: Niall Ronan (Munster) – “It has been seven months of a hard slog but I’m just delighted to be back. Playing 70 minutes (against the Dragons) was great. I wasn’t supposed to play for that long.

“My knee gets stiff from time to time but it is working well enough, and just to get back playing with the lads is a great feeling. Training Monday to Friday and not playing the games is not nice.

“I played the week before with the ‘A’ team which was a good little tester, and I did a bit of contact. Because of that, I didn’t really think about my knee last weekend. After the first carry and hit, it felt great.

“It was a bit of a bonus to fall over for a try. It was nice to get the try but the most important thing was to get the win.

“There is competition in all positions, mine included, and you just got to take your chance if it comes around. Hopefully I did that at the weekend and if I get another chance I’ll have to take it again.

“Obviously we have bad memories of that game (last season’s semi-final against the Ospreys). Beaten by 40-odd points, it was embarrassing, but the Ospreys are a good side and it’s always difficult to go over there and win.

“They got their first win last weekend so they will be waiting for us. Still, even though we know it will be a tough battle, we’re looking forward to the game.”

Gruff Rees (Ospreys) – “We were delighted with the win last Friday but that’s forgotten about now, we’ve had to put that one to bed and move on. There’s still a lot of work to be done, it was a better performance against the Scarlets but there’s still a lot of room for improvement needed.

“We’ve said all along that these opening weeks of the season would see us looking at the wider squad, giving people a chance, and despite some disappointing results we believe it’s been the right thing to do as we’ve learned a lot about the group moving forward.

“What you’ll see from selection now though is a far more settled group starting to come together as we move into what is a crucial month of the season.

“We’ve got some big games coming up, starting this weekend, and we need big performances to match. Munster have shown in the early weeks that once again they will be up there with the contenders.

“As always they are a big strong, with a powerful pack, but they’ve also developed some real cutting edge behind which makes them even more dangerous.

“Ospreys v Munster is a great contest and sums up what’s best about the PRO12. We’ve had some great occasions here for this fixture, none more than last season where we had a big crowd and fantastic support. We need more of the same on Saturday.”

Top Scorers – 2012/13 RaboDirect PRO12: Ospreys – Points: Dan Biggar 24; Tries: Hanno Dirksen 2; Munster – Points: Ian Keatley 51; Tries: Ian Keatley 2


Saturday, September 18, 2010 – Munster 22 Ospreys 10, Thomond Park
Saturday, April 23, 2011 – Ospreys 20 Munster 22, Liberty Stadium
Saturday, May 14, 2011 – Semi-final – Munster 18 Ospreys 11, Thomond Park
Saturday, October 8, 2011 – Munster 13 Ospreys 17, Thomond Park
Saturday, December 3, 2011 – Ospreys 19 Munster 13, Liberty Stadium
Friday, May 11, 2012 – Semi-final – Ospreys 45 Munster 10, Liberty Stadium


– The Ospreys got off the mark with a first victory of the RaboDirect PRO12 season at the Scarlets last Friday

– The defending champions have lost their two games at the Liberty Stadium so far this campaign, but have never lost three successive home matches in the history of the league

– Munster’s only defeat this season to date was a narrow 20-19 reversal at Ulster on September 7

– The Munstermen have won just one of their last four away games, beating Edinburgh 23-18 at the start of the month

– The Ospreys achieved a treble over Munster in the RaboDirect PRO12 last season having also met them in the semi-finals, while the province’s only win at the Liberty Stadium since 2009 was a 22-20 triumph in April 2011