Ospreys donned their white away jersey for the very first time this evening and showed real attacking intent after just thirty seconds. Number eight Morgan Morris hit a hard line on the counter, making the hosts aware of his pace from the off as he blasted through two defenders.
However, it was the Saints who had the first real opportunity of the game, launching the ball deep into Ospreys’ territory following a penalty from a scrum. The hosts hammered away at the Ospreys line for several phases before a long pass out to Saints winger Collins granted a walk in try. Outside half George Furbank added the extras from the tee, giving Northampton a seven-point lead after six minutes.
It was Northampton who went on the attack again, and after a line break from winger Collins, a long kick for territory took play deep into Ospreys’ half once more. However, the visitors unleashed a counter attacked laced with venom; centre Michael Collins intercepted a scrappy Saints pass and hared downfield before executing a wonderfully weighted kick-pass to speedster Protheroe on the right wing. The young flyer showed patience to collect the bouncing ball and scored in the right corner. Outside half Gareth Anscombe tallied his first points for the Ospreys, converting a difficult conversion to bring the game level at 7-7 after ten minutes.
Saints didn’t take long to go ahead once more, making the most of an overlap down their right side to release winger Litchfield, who cut back inside to canter in under the sticks. Outside half Furbank sent the ball between the uprights to add the conversion.
Ospreys found themselves in a strong attacking position having won the penalty, but Saints repelled the attacking maul and the Ospreys had to rebuild from outside the opposition 22. They attempted a second rolling maul, but a dubious collapse of the maul is deemed to have been legal, and Saints again keep the visitors out.
A length of the field counter-attack from the hosts forced Ospreys scrumhalf Rhys Webb to scramble back and take the ball over his own line. In a blink of an eye the visitors go from an attacking scrum near Northampton’s line to a defensive scrum on their own 5m line. Replacement scrumhalf Alex Michell took his chance from the base of the scrum and Saints went further into the lead with their third try; with Furbank maintain his 100% kicking record with his successful conversion.
A period of possession for the Ospreys yields a few penalties, and it’s a third attempt at a close-range driving maul. For the third time the visitors are denied as the referee awards Northampton a penalty as it looked like the Ospreys had crossed the whitewash.
However, Saints held on and both sides headed in at the interval with Northampton ahead by 14 points.