The Ospreys development team kicked off the inaugural Celtic Cup with a thrilling win over local rivals Scarlets A
The Scarlets were first off the mark, securing a penalty in line with the posts to go three clear with less than two minutes on the clock. But the Ospreys were quick to answer back, a good touch finder from Josh Thomas took them deep into the Scarlets 22, and a powerful driving maul from the pack sent skipper Ifan Phillips over the whitewash for the opening try of the game.
The conversion skimming the wrong side of the posts, kept the Ospreys just ahead at 5-3 with five minutes on the clock.
With momentum with the hosts, it wasn’t too long before the Ospreys found themselves back on the attack in the Scarlets half. Taking advantage of a penalty for the Scarlets holding on, the Ospreys conjured up a solid attack and a break from Phillips followed by an offload to Mitchell Walsh saw the tighthead score the second try for the Ospreys.
Thomas slotting the conversion took the hosts 12-3 ahead with less than 10 minutes played.
But just as the Ospreys looked to build on their lead, winger Dewi Cross was awarded a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on, reducing the Ospreys to 14 men.
Despite the one-man advantage, the Scarlets struggled to break through the Ospreys defence, and the hosts did well to hold up a Scarlets try. But going back for the scrum, the Scarlets quickly took advantage of the extra man, allowing Kieran Hardy to break through and score the Scarlets first try of the game. Ethan Davies with the conversion to narrow the scores 12-10.
Keen to build on the advantage whilst having the extra man, the Scarlets chased down a try out wide from Tomi Lewis followed by a conversion from Davies, to put the Scarlets back ahead at 12-17.
Back on from his yellow card, the Ospreys looked to clinch back their lead! A strong run from inside his own half from Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, saw the centre make good ground before being brought down. The Scarlets knocking on in the process of the tackle, handed Ospreys the scrum just outside the Scarlets 22.
Still on the attack, the Ospreys built up the phases whilst the Scarlets built up the penalty count. A high tackle on Harri Morgan gifted Thomas a boot to the corner, putting the Ospreys in a great attacking position.
But the visitors did well to keep the Ospreys at bay, pushing them back up field and denying them any ground. However, the Ospreys were relentless in attack and dug in deep, Luke Morgan catching the ball out wide to run off his wing to score the third try for the home team. Thomas with the extras to take the Ospreys just ahead at half time.
Half Time – Ospreys Development 19-17 Scarlets A
Running out for the second half, the Ospreys kept the scoreboard ticking over with a penalty in line with the posts. Thomas having no problem adding the three, extended the Ospreys lead 22-17 just minutes into the second half.
Firmly in control of the game, Thomas spied a loose pass in the Scarlets attack and was quick to respond. With the Scarlets scrambling to reset, a chase down from Thomas saw him race inches from the try line. With the cavalry arriving the Scarlets did well to hold the Ospreys up, but with a scrum to the Ospreys the hosts weren’t going to come away from that position empty handed.
Building up a solid set piece, a beautifully timed cross kick from Cory Allen found the hands of Ifan Phillips who ran in his second try of the night! Thomas with the conversion extended the hosts lead 29-17.
And just moments later, the skipper found himself back in the Scarlets 22 and driving over the line for the hat trick! The conversion blowing just wide kept the scores 34-17.
But just as the Ospreys looked to sit comfortably ahead, the Scarlets answered back with a try from Javan Sebastian. Davies adding the conversion narrowed the scores 34-24.
The Scarlets then enjoyed a period of play in the Ospreys half where they looked to set up camp, forcing the Ospreys to be n the defence. But the hosts held their own and kept pushing the Scarlets back and out of the danger zone. A pass out wide to Steff Evans looked to be the making of a try with the winger side-stepping his way over, only for the Ospreys to yet again hold up the try.
But still in a good attacking position, the Scarlets went again, and this time Evans was able to cross the whitewash to earn the try. No conversion kept the Ospreys 34-29 ahead with just five minutes left on the clock.
Taking the ball well from the restart, the Scarlets powered their way into the Ospreys half as they looked to take the lead, but a crucial turnover from the pack saw Morgan Morris with the break to race up the wing and score the try! Thomas effortlessly kicking another conversion put the Ospreys 41-29 ahead.
But, it was the Scarlets who had the final say of the game. Steff Evans with a quick run out wide and conversion to bring the final score to 41-36.
Speaking after the game, head coach of the development team, Richard Fussell said: “It was a gritty performance from us, I thought we showed real moments of class in both attack and defence and there’s lots of positives for us in that game for us to take out.
The Scarlets were a very good outfit and they tested us on both sides of the ball, looking back at the game it’s a very high scoring game for us defensively there’s quite a few things for us to work on but overall it was very pleasing for us to get off to a really good start and now there’s a platform for us to build on.”