The Ospreys had to settle for a losing bonus point thanks to a late Dan Biggar penalty despite dominating possession and territory against Edinburgh on Friday night.
It was a disappointing evening for Steve Tandy and his men, who having taken an early lead through Jeff Hassler found themselves trailing by 14 points just before the break after their opponents were gifted three tries.
They fought hard to get back into after the restart, and a second Hassler try combined with Biggar’s boot gave them hope of an unlikely win, but the comeback wasn’t to be and although the venue was different after the match was switched to Meggetland from the usual Murrayfield venue, the Ospreys have now won just once in the last seven visits to Edinburgh.
The result means that the Ospreys are just about clinging onto the fourth play-off places, sitting four points ahead of Glasgow who have played three games less.
They had enjoyed the brightest of starts, scoring inside five minutes. An early scrum penalty against Edinburgh’s Wicus Blaauw allowed Biggar to put the Ospreys deep into opposition territory. James King secured good line out ball, but after the home defence resisted the Ospreys attempts at a rolling maul, the ball was moved through the phases as the visitor probed for an opening.
It was Justin Tipuric, out wide on the right, who ran a great angle to create space for Canadian winger Hassler to score, cutting in from the touchline. Biggar’s conversion attempt was off target, leaving the score at 5-0 in the Ospreys favour six minutes in.
The Ospreys led for just five minutes, the hosts hitting back in a similar fashion having been awarded a scrum penalty on halfway. Their rolling maul proved more successful as Roddy Grant steered his pack forward before scrum half Grayson Hart spotted a gap and darted over the line to level things. His fullback, Carl Bezuidenhout, made no mistake with his kick, giving Edinburgh a two-point lead.
The South African fullback then extended the lead on 16 minutes with a penalty after Dan Suter was pinged at the next scrum.
The visitors looked to hit back, and having found a good position just metres from the Edinburgh line their rolling maul was twice halted illegally, leading to penalties and a warning to the home skipper. However, at the third time, the Ospreys were unable to gather, allowing their opponents to clear.
Having enjoyed a lengthy spell in the Edinburgh 22 without reward, the Ospreys would have been disappointed to find themselves back behind their own line on 25 minutes after Edinburgh grabbed their second try of the night, Jack Cuthbert easily making ground up the left flank as he ran it back at the Ospreys before offloading to Sam Beard. There was a suspicion of a forward pass, but the centre was able to shrug off ineffective tackling to cross for the try. Bezuidenhout’s conversion attempt struck the left hand post.
Edinburgh were reduced to 14 men just four minutes later, Geoff Cross paying the price of some persistent team offending. Biggar made no mistake with his penalty, bringing the Ospreys back to within seven.
Despite being a man short, Edinburgh were next to score and it couldn’t have been simpler for Hart who, after marshalling his pack through a series of patient pick and drives, eventually spotted a lack of defensive cover on the narrow blindside with players ball watching at the ruck, and had a simple stroll over from close range for his second of the night. Bezuidenhout’s conversion meant Edinburgh led 22-8.
A penalty against Edinburgh at the scrum then allowed Biggar to reduce the deficit just before the half-time whistle.
HALF-TIME: EDINBURGH 22 OSPREYS 11
The Ospreys began the second period on the offensive, working the ball back and forth across the field and probing the Edinburgh line without any success but, after Dan Suter had been turned over, a penalty against Ross Ford for holding on after finding himself isolated allowed Biggar to slot over the first points of the half.
The first 15 minutes of the second half were played out almost exclusively in Edinburgh territory, and Biggar brought his team back to within five after Ollie Atkins was guilty of not rolling away.
Edinburgh eventually made it back into the Ospreys half as the hour approached, and a penalty for the same offence, this time against Duncan Jones, allowed Bezuidenhout to pull Edinburgh right clear once again.
The hour was brought up by the second try of the night for the Ospreys, and the second of the night for Hassler. The spark came from a rolling maul, controlled by Ryan Jones, that took the visitors deep into Edinburgh territory, before a lovely little dink through by Sam Davies gave his winger to chase. The decision was referred upstairs, the TMO confirming that Hassler had just beaten Cuthbert to the ball, and the try was awarded.
As was the case with Hassler’s first though, Biggar was unable to convert, leaving the score at 25-22.
With 12 minutes left, a penalty against James King for interfering in the air at an Edinburgh line out gave the home team a chance to stretch their lead from the Ospreys 10m line, and Bezuidenhout made no mistake.
It was all beginning to get a bit scrappy with both teams turning it over cheaply, but a powerful run from Aisea Natoga from halfway put the Ospreys back on the front foot. Duncan Jones, Dan Baker, Scott Baldwin and Ryan Jones all carried well to take the Ospreys to within inches of the line, only for the ball to be spilled, allowing the hosts to clear.
A yellow card for Ashley Beck for offside as Edinburgh pressed the Ospreys line meant the final five minutes were played out with the visitors a man short, and trailing by nine after Bezuidenhout slotted over the resulting penalty.
Edinburgh themselves were reduced to 14 after a yellow card for killing the ball, allowing Biggar to bring his team back into losing bonus point territory with just a minute remaining.
The restart was too long and went dead behind the line, giving the Ospreys one last opportunity to attack from a scrum on halfway. With the clock showing time, they were unable to secure clean ball and were on the back foot, so when Tyler Ardron tried to go forward he was held up in the tackle, bringing the contest to a disappointing end.