The Ospreys picked up a second Guinness PRO12 Welsh derby win in six days, Justin Tipuric scoring the only try of the game at a waterlogged Rodney Parade.
- Tipuric's 20th try and 5 points from Biggar's boot are enough to see the Ospreys earn a second derby win of the festive season
- A 7th straight win in all competitions for the Ospreys, it was an 11th win on the bounce against the Dragons in the PRO12, their last defeat in this fixture coming five years ago this week
- The Ospreys have not conceded try in 296 minutes of rugby action, going back to the first half of the win in Grenoble
- Connacht visit the Liberty on Saturday afternoon in Round 13 of the PRO12
It means the Ospreys remain in second place, two points behind leaders Munster and three ahead of Leinster in third place.
The win was the Ospreys’ seventh consecutive victory in all competitions, one short of their all-time record of eight straight wins, and a fourth on the bounce in the PRO12.
Having confirmed a change on the bench an hour out, Dan Baker withdrawn through illness and Rob McCusker taking his place on the bench, there was an even later reshuffle when winger Dafydd Howells tweaked his hamstring in the warm-up. Hanno Dirksen took his place in the starting line-up, Jonathan Spratt added to the replacements 15 minutes before kick-off.
Referee Ian Davies declared the pitch safe and playable less than an hour before it was due to start, yesterday’s football match and the overnight rain leaving the Rodney Parade pitch in a poor condition with surface water across the field.
The opening minutes were very much a wrestle in the mud as the two teams tested each other out but the Ospreys took the lead in stunning fashion with 12 minutes played.
Tom Habberfield was the catalyst, a jinking run taking him out of two tackles inside his own half, then Olly Cracknell carried well in support before releasing Tipuric who raced home from the Dragons 10m line to score his 20th try for the region. Biggar’s conversion was good and the Ospreys led by seven.
There was a setback just four minutes later when the Ospreys were temporarily reduced to 14 when Habberfield was shown a yellow card for a no-arms tackle.
Conditions weren’t conducive to a flowing game of attacking rugby, all too often the ball going to ground, preventing either side from building any momentum, but it was the Ospreys who had the upper hand.
However, the Dragons should really have had their first points on the half hour mark, after Tipuric was penalised at the breakdown, but Angus O’Brien pushed what seemed a straightforward kick across the posts and wide.
There was plenty of endeavour on display, with Dirksen and Ashton Hewitt prominent in what was an entertaining tussle between the wingers, but there was little threat of any further scoring as the teams headed back to the changing room with just one converted try separating them.
HALF-TIME: DRAGONS 0 OSPREYS 7
The Ospreys started the second half brightly but there was another enforced reshuffle inside the first three minutes, Dirksen forced off after taking a blow to the head from a stray knee after his powerful charge had taken his team to within metres of the Dragons line.
Brendon Leonard took over at scrum half with Habberfield switching to the wing.
The third quarter was being played out almost exclusively in the Dragons half, but all too often an unforced error brought the Ospreys progress to a juddering halt.
Having absorbed endless Ospreys pressure the Dragons managed to finally get some respite and with 66 minutes played and in just about their first foray over the halfway line, were awarded a penalty for a high tackle on Hewitt bv Cracknell. It was 40m out but in a central position, so O’Brien went for the posts but he failed to find the target.
Back came the Ospreys again and when the Dragons were penalised for not rolling away Biggar split the posts to make it 10-0 to the visitors with eight left on the clock.
The Dragons came back for one last rally and the home crowd thought they had scored with five minutes left, Pat Howard collecting Sarel Pretorius’ dink over the top, but Sam Davies did enough in the aerial battle to force Howard to lose control of the ball, knocking it on before he could ground it.
Penalised at the resulting scrum, the Ospreys were forced to defend their line in the closing minutes and they were able to see the game out without conceding, ensuring the Dragons ended without registering on the scoreboard, making it an incredible 296 minutes since they last conceded a try.
Next up for the Ospreys is a home game against reigning PRO12 champions Connacht, next Saturday at 1.30pm.