The Ospreys ran in four tries to secure a bonus point win from an entertaining contest at Rodney Parade on Friday night.
- Hassler, Webb, Evans and MoM Underhill score tries for Ospreys
- Webb's score was his 27th for the Ospreys, taking him level fifth with Lee Byrne in the all-time list, two behind Sonny Parker
- Next up for the Ospreys is a home game against Benetton Treviso two weeks tonight
Jeff Hassler, Rhys Webb and Dan Evans all crossed in the first half, before a Sam Underhill touchdown after the break, the Ospreys surviving a late Dragons onslaught to hold on for a deserved win.
Hassler handed his team the perfect start, going over in the corner for the opening try with only four minutes on the clock. Webb provided the initial spark with a quick tap and go from a scrum penalty on his own 10m line and after the Ospreys had worked their way upfield, via the forwards, the ball was moved wide to the Canadian in acres of space for a simple try that went unconverted.
The Dragons hit back with a stunning score five minutes later, Hallam Amos left with a run-in after Carl Meyer and Tyler Morgan’s combined up the left flank. As with the Ospreys, the try went unconverted, so the score was level at five-all.
A high tackle on Hassler then allowed Biggar to put the Ospreys up into the corner, from where they were able to lay siege to the Dragons line. Their patience was eventually rewarded when skipper Webb was able to snipe his way over from close range, Biggar adding the extras. The try was Webb’s 27th for the Ospreys, taking him level fifth in the all-time list with Lee Byrne, two behind Sonny Parker.
Rynard Landman saw yellow at the start of the second quarter for a deliberate knock-on, but it was the Dragons who scored next, Meyer with a penalty from a metre inside his own half.
The Ospreys were looking to keep the ball alive, moving it through the hands at every opportunity, but were unable to take advantage of their extra man, which meant they led by just the four points when Landman returned just after the half hour.
Hassler then limped out of the action, Sam Davies entering the fray at fullback, Dan Evans switching to the wing, and it was Evans who scored the Ospreys’ third try of the night, with the final play of the half. He gratefully accepted Watkin’s long miss pass in acres of space out on the left and trotted over. Biggar added the extras and the visitors headed back to the shed 11 points to the good.
HALF-TIME: DRAGONS 8 OSPREYS 19
The Ospreys were almost caught out by a Dragons counter attack early in the second half, getting turned over close to the opposition 22 before Adam Warren launched a jinking run over halfway, then dinking it over the top for Amos to chase.
Although the bounce beat the Dragons wing he was celebrating less than a minute later as he grabbed his second try of the night, the hosts running the ball straight back from Biggar’s drop out, Amos this time able to collect his own chip to score. As with the first, the touchline conversion was unacceptable.
It was a fascinating contest, physical as is always the case against the Dragons, but with both sides looking to attack at every opportunity, and the Ospreys secured a try bonus point with 30 minutes to spare.
It came after a spell of patient possession inside the opposition 22, eventually creating room for young open side Sam Underhill who ignored Hanno Dirksen free on his outside to barge his way over the line. Biggar’s two pointer meant that the Ospreys now led 26-13.
The Ospreys know all too well that the Dragons will never throw the towel in and, with the game moving into the final quarter, the inevitable onslaught came from the hosts, and their third try duly arrived in the 68th minute, Meyer slicing a hole in the Ospreys defence to score before picking himself up to add the extras, bringing the Dragons back to within six.
With the game moving into the final 10 the home team, and their vocal supporters, were scenting blood but the Ospreys were able to frustrate their opponents, keeping their line intact despite intense pressure in and around their 22 to ensure the win.