The Ospreys left it late but a late flurry of points saw them secure a bonus point victory from their first ever game against Southern Kings.
- Habberfield opens the scoring before the South African visitors hit back to lead at the break
- The Ospreys had to be patient but after a scrappy third quarter were able to secure the bonus point win through two penalty tries and a late touchdown from Hassler
- Next Saturday sees the other South African side, Cheetahs, visit the Liberty Stadium (5.30pm KO)
It started promisingly enough, Tom Habberfield scoring the opening try in the 13th minute but despite dominating for long periods in the first half, the Ospreys trailed by five points at the break after two tries for the visitors.
As the evening grew ever more frustrating for the hosts, the score remained unchanged until the final 12 minutes when constant Ospreys pressure led to two yellow cards for Cheetahs, and two penalty tries, before Jeff Hassler clinched the bonus point at the death.
The Ospreys started brightly, looking to attack at every opportunity, but their early attacks lacked accuracy and possession was coughed up cheaply on more than one occasion, over eagerness the hosts’ downfall.
The opening 12 minutes were played almost exclusively in the Kings 22 and the penalty count was already at six when the hosts opted for a scrum right in front of the posts.
They were rewarded with the opening score from Habberfield, the captain taking advantage of strong platform at the setpiece to snipe his way around the cover for the five points, Davies adding the extras.
Eventually able to gain some field position, the Kings were rewarded with a shot at goal four minutes later but the kick from Masixole Banda never looked like finding the target.
Despite the Ospreys early dominance it was all square at the midway point of the half as the Kings struck from deep inside their half, flanker Andisa Ntilisa carrying powerfully in midfield, boshing Owen Watkin on the visitor’s 10m line and just a couple of passes later winger Michel Makase was haring up from the Ospreys 10m, outpacing the cover to score. Martin Du Toit converted and the scoreboard read 7-7.
The Kings then took the lead on 32 minutes, a succession of penalties allowing them to build pressure close to the Ospreys line and, eventually, captain Michael Willemse was at the back of a powerful drive to dab down for his team’s second try. This time the angle proved too much for Du Toit, his kick pulling to the left of the sticks.
As half-time approached the Ospreys pushed and probed but were unable to find a way through as, again, they were guilty of conceding too many turnovers.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 7 SOUTHERN KINGS 12
It was all very messy following the break, the game lacking any kind of shape or rhythm, and it was passed the hour mark before either side were able to create any kind of momentum, the Ospreys laying siege on the Kings line through almost 20 phases.
Eventually, Nicky Smith was held up over the line, Kings defenders turning him as he stretched over. The Ospreys were able to turn the screw at the resulting scrum and after it went down three times, loose head Johan Smith was shown a yellow card.
The dominance at the setpiece was absolute and when it went down again as the Ospreys powered towards the line the officials had little option but to award the penalty try, handing the home team a two-point lead.
The Kings were reduced to 13 just two minutes later, a side entry from Eital Bredenkamp seeing him heading to the bin.
Almost immediately the Ospreys thought they had try number three, Hanno Dirksen at the end of a move to take the final pass off Dan Evans and go for the line. It was referred up stairs to check, the decision going against the Ospreys for a double movement from the winger.
The hosts maintained the pressure, Evans doing exceptionally well on the right wing to collect a difficult ball and carry strongly, Justin Tipuric, Keiron Fonotia and Nicky Smith all going close, before a second penalty try went their way after another strong effort at the scrum.
With the game secure at 21-12 and just two minutes to play there was still a bonus point to go for and, despite all the frustrations of the night, the crucial fourth try duly arrived via Hassler, the Canadian stepping his way infield to score after good work in the build up from Davies and James King.
With the five points on the board, the Ospreys now turn their focus towards next Saturday’s home game against Cheetahs (5.30pm KO).