A try on his first start from Justin Tipuric isn't enough as a depleted Ospreys are defeated at a wet and windy Recreation Ground
Missing 29 players through injury or international duty, the Ospreys went into the game looking to bounce back from a narrow defeat against Northampton in last week's opening LV= Cup fixture.
However, despite leading at half-time, an unfamiliar Ospreys line-up was unable to secure enough quality ball in difficult conditions, and went down by 10 points to the Guinness Premiership side.
After a scrappy opening 10 minutes with neither side able to stamp their authority on the game, the Ospreys opened the scoring from a Barry Davies penalty when Ryan Davis was penalised for going off his feet at the ruck. The Bath fly-half had an instant chance to redeem himself, but his penalty drifted wide of the left hand post after Ospreys skipper for the day Jerry Collins committed a similar offence. The scores were level in the 21st minute though, Davis making no mistake from close range after the Ospreys were penalised for binding incorrectly in the scrum.
The home side were slowly taking control, with their dominance in the scrum at this stage a cause for concern for the Ospreys. However, kicking into a strong wind, Barry Davies then spurned the chance to put his side back in front after Scott Hobson took out Tom Smith without the ball at the line-out.
Steve Tandy and Richard Hibbard were introduced to the action as blood replacements for Justin Tipuric and Ed Shervington, as the conditions continued to make it difficult for either side to get any flowing rugby going.
The Ospreys changed kicker for their next penalty, following an offence in the scrum by Nathan Catt, but Gareth Owen, like Davies a few minutes previously, was unable to conquer the conditions, leaving the scores level. The 21 year-old made no mistake with his next effort though, putting his side back in front five minutes before half time after Andy Beattie strayed offside. Davis was given the chance to even things up just a minute later after Ryan Bevington offended at the line-out, but he pulled his effort wide of the far upright. With the swirling wind causing havoc for the kickers, Bath were handed another penalty with the clock showing time-up, but even a change of kicker couldn’t help, as Jack Cuthbert’s woeful attempt ended up nearer the corner flag than the posts, allowing the Ospreys to go in at the break with a 6-3 lead.
HALF TIME: BATH 3 OSPREYS 6
Bath started the second half as they ended the first, with Cuthbert again failing with a long range penalty attempt, with nine minutes after the restart, the home side were level as Davis successfully kicked his second penalty of the afternoon, before he put his side in front for the time six minutes later.
Conditions were deteriorating, making it difficult for either to play any flowing rugby. The Ospreys introduced Matthew Jarvis for Gareth Owen in the 55th minute, the fly-half making his second Ospreys appearance almost a year after his debut in Edinburgh , and he was joined on the pitch shortly after by Ross Davies, on for Cai Griffiths.
Bath extended their lead with the first try of the game in the 70th minute, Luke Watson scoring on his debut. Bath pounced on some Ospreys indecision, Barry Davies and Ashley Beck failing to deal with a hopeful up and under in the 22. As they hesitated, Joe Maddock pounced to gather before spreading it wide to Tom Cheeseman, whose final pass went astray. The Ospreys were penalised from the resulting scrum, and after opting for a line-out, Bath rumbled over from close range, Watson touching down, but the kick went unconverted.
The Ospreys then sent on Rhys Webb for Liam Davies, and 18 year-old Hanno Dirksen was introduced for his debut in place of Barry Davies, and to their credit, with the clock approaching 80 minutes, the Ospreys reduced the deficit to just three points thanks to try from Tipuric on his first start for the region. It was Jerry Collins who did the damage with a trademark burst from the foot of a ruck, and after sidestepping two defenders he fed the youngster who stretched over to ground.
Jarvis failed with the conversion attempt, and any hopes of a late Ospreys comeback were thwarted when Bath grabbed a second try with 80 minutes on the clock, Daniel Browne taking advantage of a mix-up between Beck and Webb to score, Davis’ conversion with the final kick of the game rounding off a 21-11 Bath win