The Ospreys, who were missing a larger contingent of international players than Munster for the Round 15 encounter, got off to the worst possible start when flanker Sean Dougall marked his first start since an ankle injury with a sixth-minute try. Dougall supplied the finishing touch to a driven lineout after hooker Duncan Casey had been pushed towards the tryline and Ian Keatley's conversion left the Ospreys with an early seven-point deficit.
Keatley then extended Munster's advantage to 10 with a penalty after a quarter of an hour when the Ospreys were penalised at scrum time but Sam Davies cut the gap two minutes later after James Coughlan was caught offside when Andrew Conway spilled a high ball.
The two-score gap was re-established when Keatley struck again from 40 metres out to make it 13-3 after 25 minutes but the Ospreys hit back in fine fashion in the closing stages of the half. Steve Tandy's troops could even have been ahead had Davies not missed three successive kicks at goal before and after Ashley Beck's fine individual try.
The young full back shook the post a minute after Keatley's latest effort and he then failed with the extras when Beck made light work of the Munster fly-half's poor tackle to cross for a try from inside the Munster 22. Beck showed great strength and balance to keep Keatley at bay before beating Cathal Sheridan, Conway and Felix Jones in the race for the line. Davies then miscued with a lengthy effort with the final play of the first period to ensure Munster took a five-point advantage into the break.
The home side dominated both territory and possession for almost the entirety of the second half but they came away with nothing after a single Davies penalty was bettered by tries from Simon Zebo and James Downey and a conversion from JJ Hanrahan.
Zebo's score was a real sting in the tail just five minutes after the restart as he stopped the swing in momentum when he cruised home from 55 metres. The British & Irish Lions wing gave Ireland coach Joe Schmidt another reminder of his match-winning abilities as he picked up a loose ball at an Ospreys ruck before slipping out of Tom Haberfield's tackle on the way to his fourth try in three games.
Keatley missed for the first time from the tee as he pulled his conversion wide of the near post but Munster almost killed the Ospreys off moments later when a loose Ospreys lineout 5 metres from their line allowed Coughlan to power to within inches of a third try. Tommy O'Donnell knocked on with the line beckoning, though, and the Ospreys escaped unscathed.
The Ospreys then came agonizingly close to another try of their own on the hour only for the smallest of double movements to persuade the TMO to rule out Scott Baldwin's effort at a time when seven points would have really raised hopes of a comeback. Davies did at least reduce the deficit to a single score with 13 minutes remaining but the Ospreys' hopes were shortlived as Hanrahan handed off man-of-the-match Sam Lewis to provide the platform for Downey to blast through just two minutes later.
Hanrahan's straightforward conversion moved Munster two converted scores clear at 25-11 and, although the Ospreys were straight back on the front foot, the visitors held firm too leave Tandy and co hanging on to the final play-off spot.