Full report on a chastening afternoon at the Sportsground.
The Ospreys were humbled in Galway as Conference A rivals Connacht ran in six tries to tighten their grip on the third and final play-off spot.
In a first half that saw them dominated by a home team playing the conditions perfectly, Matthew Aubrey scored his first Ospreys try, but the team headed in at the break trailing by 29 points.
There was a yellow card at the end of the first half for Keelan Giles and two more after the break, for Jordan Lay and Bradley Davies, as Connacht continued to dominate.
Playing into the Galway gale, it was the worst possible start for the visitors, who found themselves trailing inside two minutes.
Peter Robb made the initial burst on halfway, breaking the tackle before offloading to Kieran Marmion. The Ireland scrumhalf released Tom Farrell who sprinted clear to score under the posts, Kyle Godwin with the conversion.
Conditions were dictating and, understandably, the Ospreys were struggling to clear their lines as Connacht looked to make the most of the wind at the backs and 12 minutes in the difference was 10 points, Godwin with a penalty straight in front of the posts.
The outcome was the same two minutes later, James Hook penalised on the floor and Godwin making no mistake from 40m.
The Ospreys first visit to opposition was rewarded with their first points of the afternoon, from Aubrey. It came from great work by Olly Cracknell to charge down the clearance kick from Marmion on his line, the scrum half reacting well to collect the ball and ground it in the corner.
The combination of angle and wind proved too much for Price, his touchline kick actually coming to ground close to the Connacht 22.
The hosts thought they had hit back immediately as Aubrey’s clearance was fielded on halfway by Godwin who ran it straight back through the defence to go under the posts. However, it was referred upstairs where the TMO ruled the score out for a block on Sam Cross to create the space for the Connacht fly-half.
The second try did come in the 25th minute, Godwin involved again, feeding the inside ball to winger Matt Healy who was unstoppable at close range. Godwin’s conversion took his team 15 clear.
The half-hour mark brought try number three, Marmion driven over from close range following a scrum five metres out following an Ospreys throw on their own line which blew every direction except straight. Again, Godwin was able to add the extras to stretch his team’s lead.
As it edged towards the final seconds, a powerful break by Cory Allen took the Ospreys 50m upfield into the opposition 22 where they were able to set-up camp as the clock moved into first half overtime. You sensed a score was coming that would have given the Ospreys real hope for a second 40 with the wind.
However, Price’s looping pass to Dirksen on the wing was picked out by Tiernan O’Halloran who broke upfield and the Ospreys found themselves defending desperately on their line, penalties racking up against the visitors.
Just as it looked as though Connacht had men over, the ball went to ground off Giles in the tackle, and after sending it upstairs for a review the decision was a yellow card for the winger and a penalty try for what was ruled to be a deliberate knock-on to prevent the score.
HALF-TIME: CONNACHT 34-5 OSPREYS
The Ospreys needed a positive start if they were to get anything from the game but it was Connacht on the offensive again after the hosts were awarded a penalty that allowed them to move upfield.
Lay then joined Giles on the sidelines, a yellow card for hands in the ruck as the home team threatened close to the line reducing the Ospreys to 13 men.
With Giles waiting on the touchline to return to the action it got worse when Jarrad Butler went straight through ineffective tackling in midfield to release Marmion who cantered over for the simplest of scores, Godwin adding the two points.
Confusion reigned around the Sportsground in the 69th minute after what appeared to be a huge but legal hit on Godwin by Cracknell in the Ospreys 22 was reviewed by the TMO, the decision eventually a yellow card for Bradley Davies, apparently tripping Stephen Fitzgerald as he followed up.
Connacht went to the corner, rumbling their way over through Paul Boyle for an unconverted score to round off an afternoon to forget.