Heineken Champions Cup: Ospreys 13-32 Munster

By Gareth GriffithsBBC Sport Wales at the Liberty Stadium
Ospreys' Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler takes on Rory Scannell and Tyler Bleyendaal
Ospreys are Wales' sole representatives in this season's Champions Cup
European Champions Cup: Ospreys v Munster
Ospreys (6) 13
Tries: A Davies Cons: L Price Pens: L Price 2
Munster: (13) 32
Tries: Loughman, Earls, Conway, J Cronin Cons: Bleyendaal 3 Pens: Bleyendaal 2

Munster eased to an opening Heineken Champions Cup bonus-point 32-13 win over an under-strength Ospreys in Swansea.

Tries from Jeremy Loughman, Keith Earls, Andrew Conway and James Cronin and 12 points from Tyler Bleyendaal sealed the victory.

Ospreys managed a late try from Wales scrum-half Aled Davies and eight points from Luke Price.

The Welsh region slipped to a sixth defeat in seven matches this season.

Ospreys travel to face defending champions Saracens next Saturday while Munster host Racing 92.

Wing Tom Williams and prop Ma'afu Fia were the two Ospreys changes from the side beaten at home by Southern Kings in the Pro14 the previous weekend.

That result prompted Ospreys head coach Allen Clarke to admit his side were in a "dark period" after losing five out of six games in the league.

Wales World Cup squad members Bradley Davies, Nicky Smith and Aled Davies were all named on the replacements' bench for the opening European encounter.

Ospreys were still missing Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, George North, Owen Watkin and Adam Beard who were still recovering from their exploits in Japan.

Munster, in contrast, were able to field their internationals with Ireland bowing out of the World Cup two weeks before Wales.

Ospreys replacement James Hook takes on Munster's Chris Farrell
Ospreys replacement James Hook takes on Munster's Chris Farrell

There were five changes to the Munster side that beat Ulster in the Pro14 which produced a record of five wins in six games.

Keith Earls, Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray, Jeremy Loughman and Tommy O'Donnell all started.

Ospreys outside-half Price and opposite number Bleyendaal slotted over two penalties each before Munster scored the first try through prop Loughman.

The home side defended defiantly with Ospreys captain Dan Lydiate at the heart of the rearguard resistance.

The Munster onslaught had to yield a try, although it took a conversation between referee Karl Dickson and television match official Stuart Terheege to confirm the score.

Munster led 13-6 at the interval after a half in which the Ospreys had made 126 tackles.

A clever line-out move involving influential flanker O'Donnell paved the way for the second Munster try for Earls.

The decision again went to the TMO who adjudged Earls had grounded the ball before his foot was in touch.

Fellow wing Conway scored almost straight away after a 50-metre sprint following an Ospreys turnover.

The spirited Ospreys searched for a try to match their efforts and were rewarded when replacement scrum-half Davies dived over in the dying minutes.

But Munster clinched the bonus point with a late try from replacement prop Cronin from a driving line-out with Bleyendaal kicking the touchline conversion.

Ospreys head coach Allen Clarke told BBC Sport Wales: "I thought we battled hard and showed a lot of tenacity and fight against a very good side who competed in every department against us.

"The scoreline probably did us a disservice in terms of the effort we put out there on the field.

"It is important we concentrate on the boys who have played tonight.

"We know the quality we have missing and where we are as a club. What happened tonight will hold us in good stead for the future.

"It is a tough but a tremendous experience for us and we had eight debutants in European rugby tonight."

Ospreys: C Evans; Dirksen, Thomas-Wheeler, S Williams, T Williams; Price, Venter; R Jones, Otten, Fia, Orie, Ashley, Lydiate (capt), Cracknell, Morris.

Replacements: I Phillips, N Smith, Gajion, B Davies, Cross, A Davies, Hook, K Williams.

Munster: Haley; Conway, Farrell, R Scannell, Earls; Bleyendaal, C Murray; Loughman, N Scannell, J Ryan, Kleyn, Holland, O'Mahony (capt), O'Donnell, Stander.

Replacements: O'Byrne, J Cronin, Archer, Beirne, A Botha, Mathewson, Arnold, Goggin.

Referee: Karl Dickson (England)

Assistant referees: Ian Tempest (England), Paul Dix (England)

TMO: Stuart Terheege (England).

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