Carbery sublime as Munster reach seventh heaven – Ireland

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This was a night of celebration and ceremony in Cork, though not one for drawing any major conclusions.

The official opening of the new 3G surface at Irish Independent Park was followed by a strong performance by the collection of new faces and returning front-liners wearing the red jerseys as the home team ran in seven tries to the Ospreys’ one.

Up in the stand among the 8,008 attendees, dignitaries like the Táinaiste Simon Coveney, recently retired Kerry football legend Kieran Donaghy and Cork’s All-Ireland winning Camogie team watched on as a team bullied in Glasgow was completely transformed.

And down on the pitch Joey Carbery did his thing, earning a standing ovation from the crowd for his superbly taken first-half try and unerring kicking as he and fellow new signing Tadhg Beirne vied for the mantle of the most popular Kildareman in these parts since Larry Tompkins.

The important caveat that underscored everything was the quality of the opposition.

After a 100pc start to the season, Ospreys coach Allen Clarke left his main men in Wales and paid the price.

Such is the nature of the early rounds of the Guinness PRO14 where squad management is king and the quality of contests suffers.

A week ago, Johann van Graan was visibly annoyed after seeing his side out-muscled in Scotland but, with seven pack changes, that was highly unlikely to happen here.

Beirne was excellent, but he was far from alone as Peter O’Mahony and Chris Cloete hit the ground running on their first outings of the season.

The chief concern for Van Graan was the sight of both of his tighthead props leaving the field with injuries, with John Ryan looking the more serious of the two as the clash finished with uncontested scrums.

It was long over by that stage and it was the back-row set the tone early on, Cloete stole ball on two early Ospreys raids into home territory and the O’Mahony-run lineout secured the opening try after 17 impressive minutes.

Following some enterprising play that saw backs and forwards link well and exploit the new surface, the forwards made the first mark on the scoreboard with a penalty try from their dominant maul. Georgian lock Giorgi Nemsadze was sent to the sin-bin for good measure

Sam Davies got the Welsh off the mark from the tee, but the Wales international was soon wiping egg from his face as he attempted a risky cross-kick from inside his own ’22.

Tom Williams was the target, but the ball skidded off the turf and into Carbery’s path. He took it at pace and glided between James Hook and Cory Allen to score his first Munster try.

He converted it for good measure and, while Davies again nailed a penalty, the Welshmen were soon behind their own posts after Andrew Conway brilliantly won the restart and Cloete carried to the line before James Cronin found the base of the post from close range.

The four-try bonus was safe by half-time as the maul once again proved its worth against an Ospreys pack shorn of the sin-binned Adam Beard.

Rhys Marshall came up with the ball and within four minutes of the restart he was repeating the trick as the men in red kept their foot on the throttle.

With Carbery enjoying an arm-chair ride, his opposite number Davies was enduring a nightmare.

O’Mahony picked off his attempted pass to Allen and helped the ball wide where Carbery released Darren Sweetnam down the left. He was stopped short, but South African powerhouse Arno Botha wouldn’t be denied from close range.

As the benches emptied the game grew more unstructured and Luke Morgan gave the visitors a rare moment of cheer when Andrew Conway got lost under Matthew Aubrey’s box kick and the winger pounced, evaded Mike Haley’s poor tackle and scored.

Whatever positive vibes that engendered were soon gone as Ian Keatley – on for Carbery – did brilliantly to free his hands and release Botha who found Sweetnam wide on the left. The winger still had plenty to do, but with a swivel of his hips he left the defenders grasping air and went in under the posts.

James Hart almost got in for an eighth after a barrelling Tommy O’Donnell break, but he was denied by a superb Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler tackle.

It meant they stayed below the half-century, but that didn’t matter. Cardiff away will be a proper examination next week.

MUNSTER – M Haley; A Conway, S Arnold (J Taute 53), D Goggin, D Sweetnam; J Carbery (I Keatley 60), D Williams (J Hart 65); J Cronin (D Kilcoyne 50), R Marshall (M Sherry 58), S Archer (J Ryan 5-64); T Beirne (J Kleyn 53), D O’Shea; P O’Mahony (capt) (T O’Donnell 60), C Cloete, A Botha.

OSPREYS – J Hook; T Williams (H Dirksen 69), J Thomas, C Allen (T Thomas-Wheeler 64), L Morgan; S Davies, T Habberfield (M Aubrey 60); R Jones (N Smith 69), S Baldwin (I Phillips 50), T Botha (A Jeffries 58); G Nemsadze, A Beard; O Cracknell (capt), M Morris (G Volpi 50), S Cross.

Ref – S Berry (South Africa)

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