Ospreys 19 Racing Metro 19

A battling second half performance from the Ospreys saw them claw their way back from 13 points behind, but they had to settle for a share of the spoils at the Liberty Stadium.

In a tight contest, the hosts trailed from the fifth minute but their never say die attitude saw the Ospreys earn a hard fought draw, Josh Matavesi’s try in the last five minutes, converted by Dan Biggar, ensuring it finished all square.
Man of the match Biggar kicked 14 points in total, but it wasn’t enough to inspire an against the odds victory for the Ospreys who sit three points behind Racing and Northampton Saints in the Pool 5 table at the halfway point with one win, one draw and one defeat.
It was the visitors who made the better start and after enjoying the lion’s share of the early territory and possession, the French side took the lead through the boot of South African Johan Goosen after an illegal entry to a rolling maul from an Ospreys player was penalised.
They doubled the lead five minutes later, Goosen again on target after Dmitri Arhip was pinged at the scrum for not binding.
Just a couple of minutes later, good work from Marc Thomas on the ground saw the Ospreys win a turnover on the Racing 22, leading to a penalty from where Biggar was able to put over for his team’s first points of the afternoon.
Racing were looking the more dangerous as the Ospreys struggled to impose themselves and it came as no surprise when they grabbed the opening try in the 18th minute. 
It came after a prolonged spell of pressure, a series of drives taking the French team closer to the line, sucking in defenders, before Francois Van Der Merwe was left with the simplest of finishes on the right, Goosen adding the extras to take the score to 3-13.
The Ospreys responded well, a rolling maul on the left giving them some go forward as they looked to threaten for the first time, Matavesi carrying well, only for Biggar to find himself isolated and the penalty going to Racing for holding on, allowing them to clear.
However, they found themselves going another three behind when Goosen put over his third penalty of the afternoon, following a yellow card to James King for pulling down the maul.
Biggar ensured the Ospreys stayed in touch with a penalty from 40m out, Racing offside at the breakdown.
At this stage it was all starting to get very scrappy, but the Ospreys were delighted to see King returning to the field on 35 minutes with no further change on the scoreboard, and that was the way it stayed as the teams went in at the break.
The Ospreys needed a good start to the second half, and they were putting pressure on Racing right from the kick off, Alun Wyn Jones charging down Goosen’s attempted clearance. As the French defence scrambled to clear the ball was knocked on, and at the resulting scrum,  Eddy Ben Arous was penalised.
It seemed a simple kick for the ever-reliable Biggar but his effort struck the outside of the post and rebounded to safety.
The Ospreys kept up the pressure from Racing’s clearance as first Ashley Beck and then Rhys Webb looked to find a way through, before Webb’s little dink to the corner for Walker to chase saw the covering defender, Adrien Plante, run it out for an Ospreys lineout 5m out.
The attempted lineout drive was brought down illegally by the Racing pack, and the Ospreys opted for a scrum. After a big shove, the Ospreys looked to move it and were awarded another penalty at the tackle contest. Referee JP Doyle’s yellow card stayed in his pocket despite the protestations from the stands, but Biggar did slot the penalty over to bring his team back to within seven points.
This was much better from the home team and they were on top for the first time in the contest as the clock moved past 50 minutes, and they were trailing by just four after Biggar’s fourth penalty, Marc Thomas tackled without the ball.
It was on a knife edge but Racing looked to have ridden out the storm by the hour mark when Goosen was handed a kickable penalty after Justin Tipuric offended close to his own line but he saw his ball hit the outside of the right stick.
As the game moved into the final 10 minutes Goosen was on target with a drop goal that took his team a converted try clear once again but the Ospreys rallied with a wonderfully created team score.
Hanno Dirksen, Biggar, Webb and Tipuric all carried well, making huge inroads into a retreating defence before Matavesi popped up to finish off the move for his first try in Ospreys colours, coincidentally against his former club.
Biggar’s conversion leveled things with just five minutes remaining, and although thoughts would have been focused on going for the win, they found themselves surviving a few scary moments as Racing tried to kill the Ospreys off, Goosen’s long range penalty and drop goal efforts going well wide.
The game ended very much in an anti-climactic fashion, with the Ospreys awarded a penalty on their own 22 with time-up. After consulting with his skipper, Biggar opted to put the ball out and protect the draw rather than risk losing possession. The result keeps the Ospreys in Pool 5 contention, and means that the region remain unbeaten by French opposition at home since the 03/04 season, with the 12 games since seeing them win 10 and draw 2.