The Ospreys ran in five tries to secure a bonus point win at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Friday night, a victory that took them to the top of Pool 2 at the mid-point of the Anglo-Welsh group stage
- Ospreys go top of their Anglo-Welsh Cup pool after bonus point win in Cardiff
- All square at the break at 7-7 following Otten's second minute try had put the Ospreys ahead
- A red card reduced the Blues to 14 shortly after the restart and the Ospreys took full advantage as O'Flaherty (2), Leonard and Evans all scored while Jones kicked six points on his debut
They were ahead inside 70 seconds when Scott Otten touched down and, with the game all-square at seven points each at the break, they cut loose in the second half, taking full advantage of a red card for Anton Peikrishvili to run in four more tries, Brendon Leonard, Tom O’Flaherty (2) and Dan Evans scoring. 19-year old debutant Phil Jones kicked three conversions.
The first try came with only 69 seconds on the board, Otten controlling the rolling maul after young outside half Jones had gone to the corner, the hooker dotting down for the score.
Jones made the touchline conversion look easy, sending his kick straight down the middle to make it a perfect start.
After the riproaring start from the visitors the game settled down and, despite the Ospreys edging territory and possession, openings were at a premium fpr both sides.
Although opportunities were limited, the Blues runners were looking dangerous with ball in hand and one lovely break from Ben Jones carried the hosts over halfway, before James Beal ran hard and straight into the 22 where Tom Grabham was penalised at the ruck.
Blues scrum half Rhodri Davies went quickly, his tap and go catching the Ospreys defence flat footed as he raced over to score, Ben Jones converting to level things with 17 minutes played.
There was an enforced change ahead of the restart, Eli Walker exiting the action to be replaced by last Friday’s debutant and try scorer, Tom O’Flaherty.
The Ospreys then lost their other wing just past the half hour, Grabham limping off following a lengthy stoppage, unable to continue after trying to crash his way through the Blues defence after a strong 30m run up into opposition territory, play eventually being brought back for a knock-on after O’Flaherty looked like going over after collecting a bouncing ball as Grabham offloaded.
The change meant a slight reshuffle, Dafydd Howells switching to the wing with Dan Evans coming on in his usual position at the back.
A fairly uneventful second quarter drew to a close with the Ospreys patiently going through the phases, pounding the Blues defensive line without looking like finding a way, eventually winning a penalty for a high tackle on Sam Underhill.
With 40 on the clock, they had no option to go for the posts but the tight angle on the left proved too much for Jones and the two sides went in level.
HALF-TIME: CARDIFF BLUES 7 OSPREYS 7
The Blues were first to threaten following the restart, a solid scrum just inside the Ospreys half giving them a platform to attack. The ball was worked out to the left where Owen Lane was unable to keep the ball in play, despite his best soccer skills, as he chased a Dan Fish grubber beyond the defensive line.
The Blues were reduced to 14 men in the 48th minute, the Blues new Georgian prop Anton Peikrishvili shown a straight red card on his first start after an off the ball incident.
The Ospreys took full advantage of the extra man, striking immediately to retake the lead, using the rolling maul to great effect and then, once the progress was halted metres out, it was Leonard who finished it off. Jones added the extras and the Ospreys were seven ahead with half an hour to play and a man to the good.
Try number three came on the hour and it was a stunning individual effort from O’Flaherty, the winger taking the ball off Evans inside his own 22 and racing clear, his zig-zagging run tying Cory Allen in knots as he went over for his second try in two Ospreys appearances.
Once again Jones was on target with his conversion and the Ospreys now held a 14-point lead.
As the two sides emptied their benches, it became something of a stop-start affair and, with the changes in the pack the Ospreys were now dominating the scrum as they looked to turn the screw and claim a try bonus point.
It was from a scrum that try four duly arrived with four minutes left, Jonathan Spratt’s miss pass sending Evans over. Jones was inches wide from touchline leaving the score at 26-7 with four minutes left, the bonus point safely in the bag
There was still time for one more score and it was another stunner from O’Flaherty who found his way over the line from inside his own half, evading several tackles before racing clear from the Blues 10m line to score.
The conversion attempt from Jones was off target but nothing could take the shine off a good win for the Ospreys that sees them leapfrogging Exeter, Worcester and Sale to claim top spot in the group.