Munster clinch celtic glory
April 30, 2009
Ospreys speedster Shane Williams crossed for an impressive try at the Liberty Stadium
© Getty Images
Munster have been confirmed as Magners League champions after Ospreys failed to get a bonus point in their 27-18 victory against the Dragons at Liberty Stadium.
The victory leaves Ospreys ten points adrift of their rivals and although there are two rounds of action left this season even back-to-back wins would not enable them to match Munster's tally of 13 wins - the criteria that would decide the title should the two sides be tied on points. As a result the Irish province have their second celtic crown following their triumph in 2002-03.
Even though the Ospreys included all six of their British and Irish Lions they made heavy weather of the victory against a Dragons side which was only able to muster six Wales caps. James Hook scored two tries among his 19 points and Shane Williams also crossed, while former Osprey Shaun Connor kicked all the Dragons' points from six penalties.
The Dragons took the lead twice through Connor penalties, with those scores sandwiched by a Dan Biggar drop-goal. But after defending for large periods of the first quarter the Ospreys scored a well-worked try.
Biggar switched his kick to the right where Tommy Bowe collected and gave a neat outside pass to Hook, who ran in past the cover defence for the try. After missing the conversion attempt, Hook made up for it eight minutes later with a penalty to increase the lead to 11-6. The Dragons cause was not helped when Connor missed a penalty two minutes later.
The visitors were further hampered when Jamie Ringer received a yellow card after taking Lee Byrne out in mid-air on 32 minutes. But despite the one-man advantage for 10 minutes the Ospreys actually conceded three points through a Connor penalty.
Seven minutes into first-half injury time Connor kicked his fourth penalty to see the Dragons take a one-point lead into the interval. The Ospreys and Lions were given a scare when Byrne was replaced at half-time because of a slight knee injury.
Hook's penalty put the home side 14-12 ahead after Rory Sidey was sin-binned for killing the ball at a ruck. The Dragons were briefly ahead for the fourth time through a fifth Connor penalty before Williams made up for Sidey's absence to go over for a converted try after good work from Biggar and Hook.
Connor converted his sixth penalty but Aled Brew was penalised at a ruck to allow Hook to restore a six-point lead. Just before the end Williams had to track back to touch down a ball behind his own line as the Dragons briefly threatened to take the spoils.
But in injury time a Hook drop-goal denied the Dragons a losing bonus point which could prove crucial in their bid to avoid a Heineken Cup play-off.
A formal trophy presentation will take place at Thomond Park Stadium, Limerick, following Munster's last home game of the season against Ospreys on May 15.
Ospreys: Byrne, Bowe, Hook, A. Bishop, Williams, Biggar, M. Phillips, D. Jones, Bennett, A. Jones, Levi, Wyn Jones, Smith, Holah, R. Jones.
Replacements: Owen for Byrne (41), Spratt for Biggar (65), Knoyle for M. Phillips (80), James for D. Jones (51), Shervington for Bennett (41), Gough for Levi (51), Tiatia for R. Jones (65).
Dragons: Tovey, Wyatt, Gomer-Davies, Sidey, Brew, Connor, W. Evans, Black, S. Jones, R. Thomas, MacDonald, Charteris, Lydiate, Ringer, Bearman.
Replacements: Walker for W. Evans (55), Gustafson for Black (59), Willis for S. Jones (59), L. Evans for Ringer (59). Not Used: N. Hall, A. Hall, Dolman.
Referee: Andrew Small (RFU)
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