The Ospreys suffered the first defeat of their LV= Cup campaign on Saturday evening, Exeter Chiefs denying the visitors even a losing bonus point.
Morgan Allen touched down for the Ospreys only try, his second in consecutive matches, while Sam Davies added eight points, but there was to be no repeat of last weekend’s late drama as the region failed to overhaul Exeter’s half-time advantage.
An early penalty allowed Exeter fly-half Henry Slade to put his team head inside two minutes.
Despite the early setback it was the Ospreys who controlled the early stages and they duly grabbed the first try of the night on 10 minutes, albeit it a scrappy score. Having lost their own lineout ball on the Exeter 22, good work from the Ospreys pack allowed them to win possession back, scrum half and captain Junior Poluleuligaga fumbling at the back of the ruck allowing the Ospreys to pounce and it was Allen, who scored the dramatic last gasp try against Gloucester last weekend, who dabbed down to put his team ahead, Davies converting.
It was a very scrappy, stop-start affair, and it was Exeter who had the next opportunity, a penalty for not releasing in the tackle on a rare Chiefs foray into opposition territory. However, teenager Slade was unsuccessful with his kick.
As the half hour mark approached the hosts retook the lead, big second row Will Carrick-Smith stretching over the line to score between the posts, Slade’s successful conversion taking the score to 10-7 in Exeter’s favour.
A penalty from Davies drew the Ospreys level almost immediately, before Slade again failed to find the target, this time with a long-range penalty effort from close to halfway.
On the stroke of half-time Exeter snatched the initiative with a good team try started and finished by Myles Dorrian, the fullback sliding in to score after a well-worked move that saw Foster and Dave Ewers to the fore. Slade’s conversion took the score up to 17-10.
HALF-TIME: EXETER CHIEFS 17 OSPREYS 10
After a slow start to the second half, another missed penalty from Slade the only incident of note, the boot of Davies saw the Ospreys come back to within four points, only for Slade to respond in kind minutes later, restoring the Chiefs seven point advantage after a period of sustained pressure on the line finally drew an offside decision.
Even though Exeter were on top in the second period, the usually raucous Sandy Park atmosphere was conspicuous by its absence, reflecting what was a pretty mundane affair, although the home fans were cheering again when Slade slotted over another penalty to take the Chiefs 10 clear with around 15 minutes remaining.
As a forgettable game was coming to a close, Exeter were forced to play out the final minutes light of their full complement of players. First, number eight Dave Ewers was forced off injured after the Chiefs had used all their replacements, and then replacement hooker Neil Clark was sent to the sinbin for an offence as the Ospreys looked to rumble forward from a lineout at the final play of the game.
Replacement Matthew Morgan went for the posts, looking to secure a bonus point with the final kick of the evening but he was off target, meaning the Ospreys left Devon empty handed.