The Ospreys had to settle for a solitary losing bonus point at Murrayfield on Saturday night as Edinburgh overturned a 10 point deficit to clinch victory
Dan Biggar scored all the Ospreys points, including a first-half try, but it wasn’t enough as Edinburgh dominated for long periods of the game against an out of sorts visiting team
Early Edinburgh indiscipline, twice coming in from the side of the ruck, allowed Biggar to give his team a six-point lead inside six minutes, before Ryan Jones found himself pinged for not releasing the ball when tackled, Greg Laidlaw halving the deficit within 60 seconds.
It was a scrappy opening with both teams coughing up possession, and the breakdown in particular was looking messy, but the Ospreys had the upper hand in the scrum and they got the game’s first try after being awarded a free-kick at the set-piece. Richard Fussell made the break, beating opposite full-back Jim Thompson, and with options on both sides, he ignored Tommy Bowe on his right to offload to Biggar as Scott Newlands tackled, the fly-half going over to touch down before converting his own try.
With the visitors building up a 10-point lead inside the first quarter of an hour, Edinburgh looked to strike back and they were denied a try by the TMO with 19 minutes gone. Strong running from Tim Visser took his side close to the Ospreys line before Laidlaw fed David Denton who tried to barge his way over at close range. However, the defensive efforts of Fussell and Sonny Parker on the line clearly forced the number eight to lose control of the ball as he stretched to ground it.
Edinburgh tails were up, but on more than one occasion they were guilty of taking the wrong option, although they almost got a try through Ben Cairns with 27 on the clock. Again the TMO ruled against them, this time Webb doing just enough to prevent the centre grounding as he raced to get on the end of a Laidlaw grubber. From the resulting scrum five, Tom Smith and Justin Tipuric had to be alert to halt the pick and drive from Denton, Ian Evans finishing off the defensive work as the hosts put the Ospreys under sustained pressure.
Nikki Walker, who scored for his country at Murrayfield last weekend, then received just a warning for a high tackle on Cairns as he looked to cut a swathe through the Ospreys defence, with the home fans calling for yellow.
It was one-way traffic at this stage, with the Ospreys having difficulty getting any possession or territory, as wave after wave of black shirts attacked their line. Eventually the pressure told, Edinburgh finally working an overlap on their right, Cairns supplying the scoring pass for Jim Thompson. Laidlaw’s conversion brought his team back to within three, four minutes before the break.
HALF-TIME: EDINBURGH 10 OSPREYS 13
The Ospreys started the second half on the front foot, a good break by Webb taking his team upfield, before Fussell’s kick ahead carried just too far for him as he looked to chase.
Just as was the case in the first 40, the game continued to be stop-start, with unforced errors from both teams preventing the game from getting any kind of rhythm or momentum.
Laidlaw was able to level things in the 49th minute from a straightforward penalty after Ryan Bevington was caught offside, before Biggar was off-target 90 seconds later after an Edinburgh offence at the scrum.
He made no mistake shortly after though, a long range effort from a central position restoring the Ospreys lead after Esteban Lozada offended, the second row shown yellow.
Despite being down to 14 it was Edinburgh who scored next, Dutch wing Tim Visser, who scored a hat-trick in the corresponding fixture last season, again touching down. He rounded off a well worked team move, taking Macleod’s long pass close to the touchline before turning Bowe inside out and evading Webb’s tackle to score, Laidlaw’s conversion making it 20-16 with just over a quarter of the game remaining.
The Ospreys tried to step it up, but it was all too frantic as Edinburgh were able to deal with any threat without too much difficulty as the clock ticked down. The Ospreys problems were summed up by a period of play that saw them going through a dozen phases between Edinburgh’s 10 and 22 metre lines without making any ground, before the hosts were eventually awarded a penalty for players going off their feet.
Having weathered that storm, Edinburgh were able to go back upfield, winning a penalty to the left, just inside the Ospreys 22, and Laidlaw made no mistake to seal the home win with just a couple of minutes remaining.