Munster 38 Ospreys 22
A hat-trick from number eight Gavin Coombes inspired Munster to a bonus-point victory in their Pro14 encounter against the Ospreys at Thomond Park on Sunday afternoon.
The Welsh side simply had no answer to the Skibbereen man close in and with five tries in five games it will be extremely difficult for Munster head coach Johann van Graan to keep him out of the side once the internationals return.
The Ospreys showed that they had not travelled to Limerick to roll over when they opened the scoring with a wonderful try from deep inside their own half in the 7th minute. The in-form full-back Mat Protheroe cut the Munster defence to ribbons with a scything run past Coombes and JJ Hanrahan, and he was able to tee up his right-wing Luke Morgan for a simple finish in the corner.
Munster were not long in replying, however, with Coombes proving how difficult he is to stop close to the opposition line, when three Ospreys defenders couldn’t prevent him dotting down in the 14th minute.
Munster struck again just five minutes later when full-back Mike Haley picked up a loose pass in broken play, showed a lovely step off of his right to go through a gap, and he had to gas to dot down next to the posts.
Munster out-half JJ Hanrahan had to retire injured with a hamstring injury in the 23rd minute, and the first thing his replacement Ben Healy had to do was to slot a penalty from 25 metres to push Munster out to a 17-7 lead.
Stephen Myler slotted a 34th minute penalty, but Munster were in no mood to let Ospreys back in, and a destructive lineout maul saw hooker Kevin O’Byrne crash over in the 38th minute to give Munster a well deserved 24-10 lead at the break.
The Ospreys begun the second half with Morgan in the sin-bin and Munster took full advantage, securing the bonus point with yet another Coombes try from close range after scrum-half Craig Casey had made about ten yards along the ground in the 43rd minute.
Coombes then ensured the headlines would all be about him when he scored his third try from a quick tap penalty in the 54th minute.
The game may have been gone, but the Ospreys kept plugging away and were rewarded with a try off a maul from replacement hooker Dewi Lake in the 64th minute, and they got another in the 77th minute when they were awarded a penalty try after the Munster play had become sloppy late on.
Healy (1 pen, 3 cons), Hanrahan, Scannell (1 con each), Coombes (3 tries), Haley, O’Byrne (1 try each).
Myler (1 pen, 1 con), Morgan, Lake (1 try each), Penalty try.
Haley, Sweetnam, Scannell, de Allende, Gallagher, Hanrahan, Casey; Coombes, O’Donnell, O’Donoghue (c), F Wycherley, Kleyn, Archer, O’Byrne, Cronin.
Healy for Hanrahan (23), Barron, J. Wycherley and Ryan for O’Byrne, Cronin and Archer (55), McCarthy for Casey (58), Holland and O’Sullivan for F Wycherley and Coombes (63), Goggin for Sweetnam (65).
Protheroe, Morgan, Thomas-Wheeler, Williams, Dirksen, Myler, Venter; Evans, Lydiate (c), Griffiths, B Davies, Beard, Botha, Philips, Thomas.
R. Davies for B Davies (2), Jones, Lake and Cracknell for Thomas, Philips and Botha (49), Aubrey for Venter (67).
Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy).