The Ospreys secured a first win Edinburgh in five years on Friday, making light of 28 absentees to go top of the Guinness PRO12, albeit ahead of Munster and Leinster’s games this weekend.
In a game where conditions meant opportunities for either side to cut loose where rare, it was a moment of magic from Sam Davies, setting up Josh Matavesi for the only try of the game, that proved the difference.
Man of the match, Davies, also kicked eight points as the Ospreys made it 15 wins from their last 16 matches in all competitions, but the win owed a huge amount to an immense defensive effort as, particularly in the second half, it was one way traffic for long periods with Edinburgh dominating the possession and territory stats.
What had been a pretty crisp and clear Edinburgh day turned into a miserable evening as the wind and rain picked up shortly before kick-off.
After a frenetic opening few minutes as the two teams acclimaitised the hosts took early control, enjoying plenty of possession without causing the Ospreys too many problems.
It was Duncan Weir who opened the scoring 15 minutes in with a kick from 30m out after the Ospreys were penalised at the scrum.
A high tackle on Josh Matavesi by Du Preez Cornell on the Edinburgh 10m line gave the Ospreys a chance to hit straight back, Davies leveling it at three apiece within two minutes.
The Ospreys built on that almost immediately, taking the lead through a wonderfully worked Matevesi try.
A lineout on the right provided the platform and, after multiple phases, it was Davies who broke the line running a clever angle before his reverse pass took out the cover defence as Matavesi burst through to receive it inside the 22 for a canter under the posts. Davies’ simple conversion gave the visitors a 10-3 lead with just over 20 minutes played.
The try made light of the ever worsening conditions, but there was little to match it in the second quarter, the only time either side looking like scoring coming in the final minute when an Ospreys overthrow in their own 22 was pounced on by Edinburgh’s Sam Hidalgo-Clyne.
It was spun wide to the opposite flank where Damien Hoyland looked to find a way over the line, only to be stopped just short. Still Edinburgh pressed, through the forwards, but the Ospreys defence held firm, forcing the knock on, allowing Davies to put the ball out from the resulting scrum to bring the first half to a close.
HALF-TIME: EDINBURGH 3 OSPREYS 10
The second half began as the first had ended, with the Ospreys having to defend as Edinburgh pressed, the visitors holding firm but struggling to clear their lines.
An Edinburgh penalty, taking the jumper out at the lineout, allowed Weir to put his team right into the corner. After the Ospreys were again penalised for bringing down the maul, the second attempt went awry as Neil Cochrane’s throw failed to find the target, Cornell Du Preez knocking on.
There was still some work to be done at the ensuing scrum, but Davies was eventually able to put the ball into touch 30m upfield.
It was heavy going as Edinburgh controlled possession and territory, the Ospreys working incredibly hard to keep their line intact, showing great discipline to reach the hour mark still holding the seven point lead.
Weir went for the posts in the 64th minute following a Kieron Fonotia high tackle and the Scotland fly-half made no mistake from almost 40m out, bringing his team back to within four points.
Having soaked up so,much possession the Ospreys were finally able to get their hands on the ball further upfield and, as the clock ticked past 69 minutes, Davies was able to take his team seven clear again after an Edinburgh side entry.
Up the other end, a penalty against Joe Bearman for not rolling away, resulted in a simple three pointer for Weir, and the scoreboard now read 9-13 with seven to play.
A great take in the air from Damien Hoyland, beating Dan Evans close to the touchline, allowed Edinburgh to lay siege on the Ospreys line once more, phase after phase of pressure ending with a knock on 10m from the visitor’s line.
Evans cleared to close to the 10m line from the scrum, allowing Edinburgh one more chance to go again as the clock moved to 79 minutes.
It was the same story again though as Edinburgh huffed and puffed without finding a way through, the Ospreys again forcing a knock on their 22 with time up, allowing them to put the ball dead before celebrating an important win.