NG Dragons 32 Ospreys 28

The Ospreys ran in three tries but failed to secure victory after an extraordinary 80 minutes of rugby at Rodney Parade.

There were fireworks on the pitch pre-match but they paled in comparison to the explosive action during the game that saw the Dragons secure a winning bonus point after racing into a 21 point lead with three tries during the third quarter, before a grandstand finale saw the Ospreys pull back to within four points only to see the Dragons hold out a ferocious onslaught on their line deep into injury time.

It was vital that the Ospreys silenced the vociferous home crowd early on, and it was the visitors who drew first blood, Dan Biggar successful with a penalty from the touchline in only the third minute, after the Dragons were penalised at the breakdown.

The lead was shortlived though, Gavin Thomas winning a turnover on halfway that allowed the Dragons to attack at speed, Ashley Smith and Toby Faletau carrying well before the young number eight fed Smith for a simple run-in from close range, Jason Tovey converting with just five minutes gone.

The score provoked a good response from the Ospreys, who pressurised the Dragons inside their own 22 as they looked to run the ball out of defence from behind their line, forcing a knock-on. The men in white stole possession, and were able to work it wide where James Hook held his pass long enough to draw the tackle before slipping it to Ryan Jones who went over to score in the corner. Hooks conversion attempt from a tight angle on the left was off target, leaving the scores at 8-7 to the Ospreys.

The first scrum of the evening saw the Ospreys driving the Dragons backwards a rate of knots, the home pack eventually disintegrating, allowing Biggar a chance to go for the posts from 40m out, but like Hook before him, the radar was off.

As anticipated it was proving a lively affair, and the Dragons edged back in front through Tovey after the Ospreys were guilty of not rolling away following a controversial decision to award a lineout to the hosts with Biggar convinced he hadnt touched the ball before it bounced out of play.

Tovey was able to extend his teams lead at the halfway point of the first period after a spell of concerted Dragons pressure that saw them flinging the ball left, right and left again finally told, the Ospreys pinged for going off their feet.

There should have been a second Dragons try minutes later following another turnover on halfway. Tovey spotted the acres of space behind the defence and put a delightful kick over the top for former Osprey Aled Brew to chase. Brews pace saw him leave the cover for dead as he raced through for what seemed a certain score. In his eagerness though he overran the ball, getting himself into a tangle just metres from the line and the ball bounced up onto his knee and into touch.

It was raucous and passionate in the Rodney Parade stand, reflecting what was happening on the pitch as the Dragons looked to increase their lead, with the Ospreys forced to defend for their lives as their opponents attacked from every angle, penning them back into their own 22 for long periods.

On a rare foray forward from the Ospreys, the Dragons were penalised for going off their feet, allowing Biggar to slot over his second penalty of the night, before Tovey was off target from 42m after an offside decision from Nigel Owens, to leave the score at 13-11 to the men of Gwent as the interval approached.

A high-tackle on Ashley Smith by Jerry Collins gave Tovey another chance with the last kick of the half, but like his previous attempt, he failed to find the target.


The Dragons almost grabbed their second try within two minutes of the restart, the lively Faletau breaking his away through some lightweight Ospreys tackles before another well weighted Tovey chip towards the line saw Biggar and Tommy Bowe combine to deny Brew. The try did come from the resulting scrum five though, the Ospreys defence unable to stop scrum half Wayne Evans finding a way over from close range.

The Ospreys had been unable to get any real foothold in the second half, but bizarrely, found themselves going further behind after their first real prolonged spell of pressure. After going through a number of phases, that saw Andrew Bishop and Jerry Collins making good ground, the Dragons won turnover ball, allowing Tovey to put the ball into the 22 for Brew to chase once again.

Bowe seemed to have it covered as it bounced up close to the line, but instead of gathering the ball as expected he swung his leg to kick it, missing the ball completely and allowing Brew to score. The conversion was unsuccessful, but the Ospreys still trailed by 14 with half an hour to go.

It got worse for the Ospreys minutes later when Brew went over for his second try, and the Dragons fourth, securing a bonus point for the home team. The wings kick through rebounded back to Tovey, who gave it straight back to Brew and he was able to turn on the gas to leave Hook trailing in his wake to race home from halfway. Matthew Jones conversion took the score up to 32-11.

It was beginning to look like a lost cause but the Ospreys refused to give up and got their second try on the hour mark, Tom Isaacs and Hook, now playing at 10 after Biggar had left the field feeling the after effects of a bang to the head in the first half, combining to feed Bowe who jinked his way past three Dragons defender to go over, Hook adding the extras.

Three minutes later the Ospreys went over again, a delightful cross kick from Hook finding Walker on the left wing, and he cruised over for his 9th try of the season and his 37th for the region on his 100th appearance. Hook put over a lovely conversion from the touchline to unbelievably bring his team to back within seven points.

A long-range penalty from Hook then cut the deficit further, and it was a momentous personal score for him, taking him past Gavin Henson as the Ospreys all-time top points scorer, his personal tally now standing on 790, two ahead of Henson.

The momentum was with the Ospreys as the clock ticked down and they had the scent of an unlikely win in their nostrils. The closing minutes saw the Ospreys camped on the Dragons line but there was no way through despite their best efforts as the hosts held firm to secure a narrow victory much to the delight of the home crowd.