The Ospreys survived a nervy ending to secure their second derby win of the festive period and a fifth consecutive PRO12 victory to continue the climb up the table.
- First half tries from Dirksen & Evans put the Ospreys in the driving seat as they led 12-0 at the break but they failed to build on the lead and found themselves defending a five point advantage in the closing stages
- A fifth straight PRO12 win puts the Ospreys up into the Champions Cup slots
- The victory makes it just one defeat in the last 23 league matches against the other regions, going back to January 2012
- The Ospreys haven't lost at the Liberty Stadium to Welsh opposition in the league since they were defeated by the Dragons in October 2010
- The win was an eighth consecutive PRO12 win over the Dragons
Having dominated early proceedings and gone in at the break with a 12-0 lead courtesy of tries from Dan Evans and Hanno Dirksen in blustery conditions, the scene was set for the Ospreys to kick on after the interval. However, the Dragons clung on and a try from Ed Jackson inside the final 15 minutes meant it was an uncomfortable finish for the team in black.
The hosts enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, taking an early stranglehold on the contest, but Sam Davies twice failed to find the target with kicks in the opening 10 minutes as the wind blew around the Liberty, the Dragons penalised for offences on the floor on both occasions.
Slowly the visitors worked their way into the game but, as the clock moved to the midway point of the first half, there had been little further by way of scoring opportunities for either team.
That all changed in the 24th minute when, out of nothing, the Ospreys grabbed the opening try of the afternoon through Evans. It was Dan Lydiate who provided the spark with a powerfiul charge in midfield before the full back took advantage of delightful hands by Davies to collect his little offload before shrugging off Sarel Pretorious to score. The conversion was Davies’ third miss of the half, but the Ospreys led 5-0.
The Ospreys were on top and the second try eventually came just five minutes from the break following a prolonged spell of pressure.
Ben John did well to bounce off Matthew Screech before dancing through two tackles. Dirksen and Alun Wyn Jones were both stopped just short of the line before the winger picked himself up and read the situation perfectly, racing in to take Tom Habberfield’s pass at pace a metre out, diving over the cover to score in spectacular fashion.
It was fourth time lucky for Davies, converting to take his team 12 points clear at the break.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 12 NG DRAGONS 0
There was a lengthy delay just a minute into the second half after Lydiate and his team-mate Aaron Jarvis, the pair eventually leaving the field under the HIA protocols, James King and Dmitri Arhip the temporary replacements.
Try number three should really have arrived in the 45th minute following a sizzling break by Davies which took the Ospreys from midway inside their half up to the Dragons 22m line.
Evans continued the good work, supporting well, before the forwards had a go from close range, Dirksen and Dmitri Arhip both stopped a metre out. With the try seemingly inevitable, the ball was scooped back out to Dirksen who knocked on with the line beckoning as the rain started to fall heavily.
Jarvis returned to the action having been given the all clear but King became a permanent replacement 10 minutes into the second half, albeit Lydiate cleared under the HIA protocols was suffering from a stinger.
By now an already cold and windy afternoon had become decidedly unpleasant as the rain hammered down, and the game was getting bogged down in midfield with little to warm up the crowd as it moved into the final quarter with no change to the score.
The Dragons finally got their side of the scoreboard moving in the 65th minute, playing the conditions well by turning down a kickable penalty to go to the corner, from where Ed Jackson put the finishing touches to a rolling maul, the try confirmed by the TMO.
Jason Tovey added the extras and the visitors were back within five.
Buoyed by the score, the visitors looked to go for the kill and spent two minutes pounding the Ospreys line through a series of pick and go’s, only for the defence to hold firm, the penalty eventually going against Rynard Landman after he found himself isolated.
The closing stages were all about the Dragons trying to find a way through the black wall and the Ospreys successfully managing to run down the clock despite the pressure.
There was another lengthy delay in the final minute when Arhip suffered a rib injury which forced him out of action, but the Ospreys were able to see out the game for their second derby win of the festive season, a result that moves them into the top six and the Champions Cup qualification positions, albeit with the teams just below them play tomorrow.