Ospreys 18 London Wasps 13
The Ospreys secured their third win from four games in this season's LV=Cup at the Riverside Hardware Brewery Field this afternoon, but it wasn't enough to see them progress to the semi-finals after Harlequins defeated Cardiff Blues at the Stoop to top the group.
Four penalties from Dai Flanagan, plus a penalty and drop goal from Dan Biggar was enough to overcome a strong challenge from an experienced London Wasps team who scored two tries, from Mark Van Gisbergen and Tom Varndell, but it was a deserved win for a team who led from the fourth minute in front of a healthy crowd of 4,800.
The Ospreys were the first to register on the scoreboard through a Flanagan penalty after Wasps were guilty of collapsing the scrum.
Wasps looked to hit back, and with a knock-on advantage being played on the left they were able to spread the ball the width of the field to Richard Haughton who looked to squeeze his way over, only for a combination of Hanno Dirksen, Tom Prydie and Gareth Owen to hold him up on the line.
The visitors had the Ospreys under pressure at the resulting scrum, with two penalties being awarded their way, but at the third attempt the hosts were able to resist, Rhys Webb doing well to stop Billy Vunipola from making yardage at the base of the scrum, forcing the number eight into knocking on.
The scores should have been level on 16 minutes, Tom Isaacs penalised for not releasing after the tackle, but Dave Walder made a hash of a simple kick, slicing it wide to the left of the sticks.
It was a physical, keenly contested battle with neither side really able to take control of affairs. The Ospreys were able to extend their lead just after the half hour though, Flanagan with a difficult kick after Welsh international prop Ben Broster infringed off the ball.
Wasps struck straight back with a well worked try from Van Gisbergen, Haughton doing the hard work up the right flank, drawing the tackle from Webb before offloading to his fullback who went over to score despite Prydie’s efforts. Again Walder was well off target with his kick, leaving it 6-5 to the Ospreys.
As half time approached Wasps were starting to gain superiority, and only ar crunching last-ditch tackle by Dirksen on Haughton a metre from the line prevented a second Wasps try after good wok by Van Gisbergen coming into the line.
The final act of the first period saw Walder miss his third kick of the afternoon, a long-range effort that fell just short following an Ospreys offence in the scrum.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 6 LONDON WASPS 5
After a bright start to the second half by the Ospreys, Wasps thought they had weathered an early storm, only to find themselves going further behind.
The visitors were making their first foray into their opponents half, only for a fantastic piece of work by Justin Tipuric to steal the ball, which set off a swift counter attack. Strong running from Isaacs carried them into Wasps territory. Tipuric and Cross both continued to make yardage before the ball unfortunately went to ground. However, their efforts didn’t go unrewarded, a penalty allowing Flanagan to extend the lead.
Further ill discipline from the visitors five minutes later saw Flanagan successfully slot over his fourth kick of the afternoon.
Wasps came back strongly, but time and again their players found themselves running up blind alleys as the hosts defence held firm. Having rejected the chance to go for three points after an Ospreys player was pinged for not rolling away only to cough up possession from the resulting lineout, Walder finally managed to get one between the sticks just after the hour, making it 12-8.
The Ospreys should have grabbed their first try straight from the restart, Duncan Jones, on for Cross, doing well to claim the ball. It was worked through the hands, Isaacs again carrying well before feeding Prydie as he burst into the line. The fullback ignored a clear overlap on his outside, with Kristian Phillips waiting for a scoring pass, as he went for the line himself only to find the door closed on him. However, with a penalty advantage being played, Biggar calmly slotted over a drop goal to take the lead back up to seven points.
Some quick thinking by Biggar, who had replaced Flanagan, almost led to a try a minute later, his chip and chase causing the Wasps defence problems, Haughton just getting back to ground ahead of the young fly-half, before Dirksen almost took advantage of a fortuitous bounce that caught two Wasps defenders out, only to be driven into touch at the corner flag by Haughton and Charlie Beech.
A Wasps offence in the scrum then allowed Biggar to make it 18-8 from close to the touchline with six minutes remaining.
With the clock running down Wasps looked to up the tempo, and after pressing for a number of minutes they were finally able to breach the Ospreys defence, working it out wide to Tom Varndell who stretched over to ground in the corner as the defence looked to force him into touch. Walder wasn’t enjoying a good day with the boot though, and his conversion attempt drifted wide to the right.
There was to be no further scoring as the Ospreys hung for a win to round off their LV= campaign on a positive note despite the disappointing news coming through from West London.