Late injuries the only blemish on night Munster provide a glimpse of their firepower

ON A NIGHT when Munster’s new faces and returning internationals combined to provide an exciting glimpse of the province’s firepower, Johann van Graan’s chief post-match concern was the injuries suffered by two of his tighthead props. 

The loss of both Stephen Archer and John Ryan in the second half of last night’s seven-try rout of Ospreys in Cork meant the southern province finished with 14 players on the pitch and the game ended with uncontested scrums.

Ryan looked in some discomfort as he was helped off. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

After being replaced by Ryan early in the second period, Archer was then called upon again after his replacement suffered what looked like a serious looking knee injury, before the 30-year-old was himself forced off with a head knock.

While van Graan didn’t have much in the way of an immediate post-match diagnosis, there is concern over the severity of Ryan’s injury after the Ireland prop appeared in some discomfort as he was helped off. 

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It was the only blemish on an otherwise faultless night for Munster, who bounced back from last week’s defeat to Glasgow Warriors in emphatic fashion, thrilling a capacity crowd at Musgrave Park with a performance of real intent and quality.

Returning captain Peter O’Mahony set the tone early in the peace as he showed no sign of early-season rust, while the fit-again Chris Cloete — outstanding from start to finish — was tireless in his work around the pitch, and an absolute demon at the breakdown.

Munster’s dominant forward pack ensured Duncan Williams had quick and quality ball to deliver to Joey Carbery, who had an arm-chair ride at out-half but was masterful in his decision-making, distribution and all-round kicking game.

The return of Cloete, who was making his first appearance since February after arm and groin injuries, is a major fillip for the province, while Tadhg Beirne and Arno Botha were hugely influential around the fringes too. 

“It just shows that when you have your international players back it makes a big difference,” Van Graan said. “Potentially, there were a few world-class players in the field tonight.

“I think we knew we would bring seasoned internationals but also guys who have the potential to be future stars onto the field, I think you’re going to get what you got tonight. Some special moments out there.

“The game actually went by pretty fast, so I’ll have to have a look at a few things more. Very happy with the reaction of the forwards and happy with the reaction of some of the individuals.”

Peter O’Mahony was immense on his first appearance of the season. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

In fact, every player in red stood up with Darren Sweetnam continuing his excellent form with another lively and skilful display on the wing, as he added the seventh and final try with a brilliant finish.

Andrew Conway and Sammy Arnold had plenty of good involvements with ball in hand and, on the newly-laid 3G surface, Ospreys were powerless to stem the flow of a Munster onslaught, as they sealed the bonus-point try before half-time.

Even off the bench, Ian Keatley, Tommy O’Donnell and James Hart were among those who made positive contributions in late cameos.

“I’m happy with the tries that we have scored but we left one or two out there,” Van Graan added.

“We would have loved to score one or two more but I took a lot of guys off a lot earlier than usual to get game time and to take guys off that we want to spare for the rest of the year.

“I thought a good all-round performance by the backs. I think Andrew Conway had a very good return and one player that I must mention is Dan Goggin. I think he has played very well in the two warm-up games and then against the Cheetahs. We gave him a breather last weekend and I thought he took his opportunity tonight.” 

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