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Remembering Twickenham

By Ospreys Rugby | 12/04/2018

Saturday 12th April 2008 will always be remembered as one of the greatest days in the short history of the Ospreys, the Region defeating Leicester Tigers at Twickenham in front of more than 65,000.

It was 10 years ago today that the Ospreys, skippered by Ryan Jones, claimed the silverware in the Anglo-Welsh Cup at the home of English rugby in South West London. 

In those days known as the EDF Energy Cup, it was a flagship competition played out between first teams outside of the international window and the 2008 final was a repeat of the previous year, when Tigers inflicted a 41-35 defeat on the Ospreys in a nine-try thriller.

The 2007/08 version of the competition had seen the Ospreys ease their way through the group stage with three wins over English opposition, two on the road.

First Worcester were defeated at Sixways, 47-16 before London Irish suffered a similarly emphatic loss when they visited the Liberty a week later, the game finishing 51-16.

Then, a month later, at the start of December, the Ospreys booked their place in the last four with a 19-8 win over Harlequins at the Stoop, Gavin Henson scoring all the points, including a last minute try to seal the win, in a man of the match display.

Come the end of March, and with 15 players returning to the region fresh from a memorable Grand Slam success with Wales, the Ospreys met Saracens in front of 40,000 people at the Millennium Stadium in the semi-final. Leading 8-0 at half-time, a storming second half display saw the Ospreys run away with it, finishing up 30-3 winners as Shane Williams (2), Gavin Henson and Filo Tiatia all scored tries to secure a Twickenham rematch with  Leicester.

The final turned out to be a far cry from the carnival of running rugby that was the 2007 version, but that wouldn’t have bothered anyone in the Ospreys camp as they dominated from first whistle to last, tries from Andrew Bishop and Alun Wyn Jones along with 13 points from James Hook securing the silverware as it finished 23-6.

It was an achievement to be proud of, and the players certainly celebrated in style as Ryan Jones collected the cup but there was an evident sense of relief in some of the post-match comments after a shock Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat the previous weekend against Saracens, just a fortnight after they had been defeated so handsomely in Cardiff.

Man of the match Marty Holah admitted that it had been “tough to pick ourselves after the loss to Saracens but we refocused in midweek” while the captain, Jones, said he was “proud to have turned it around. It was just reward for the fantastic hard work we’ve put in this week.”

In the build-up to the game the Ospreys’ apparent inability to win the big one-off games had come under close media scrutiny, a viewpoint that the Saracens defeat had only given weight to.

Reflecting that coverage Lyn Jones spoke passionately after the win, his delight evident to all.

“That was a very important turning point for us, we’ve crossed that line of getting a win in a big game” he said.

“The Saracens defeat was a kick in the pants, we were devastated but there was a very positive attitude from everyone today. We’re absolutely delighted, now we have to build on this success.”

For one of the heroes of the win, Filo Tiatia, lifting the cup was only the second most memorable event of the day. The crowd favourite had stayed behind in Swansea to be with his wife Sally as she gave birth to twin girls Gianna and Emina the night before the game. He then travelled to the team hotel in London in the early hours of matchday to catch just a few hours rest before playing a key role in the back role battle that helped win the game for the Ospreys.

The scorers:

Leicester Tigers:

Pen: Goode

Drop goal: Goode

 

Ospreys:

Tries: Bishop, AW Jones

Cons: Hook 2

Pen: Hook 3

 

Leicester Tigers: 15 Johne Murphy, 14 Ollie Smith, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Harry Ellis, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Ben Herring, 6 Martin Corry (c), 5 Ben Kay, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 George Chuter, 1 Boris Stankovich.

 

Replacements: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Julian White, 18 Richard Blaze, 19 Tom Croft, 20 Christophe Laussucq, 21 Sam Vesty, 22 Tom Varndell.

 

Ospreys: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Johnny Vaughton, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Andrew Bishop, 11 Shane Williams, 10 James Hook, 9 Justin Marshall, 8 Filo Tiatia, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Ryan Jones (c), 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James.

 

Replacements: 16 Huw Bennett, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Ian Gough, 19 Jonathan Thomas, 20 Gareth Owen, 21 Jonathan Spratt, 22 Aled Brew.  

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