The Ospreys ran in four tries as they secured a deserved win at the Liberty Stadium to kick-off their busy pre-season schedule.
- Leicester take early 14-0 lead with tries from Youngs and Smith before Ospreys strike back
- Parry, Matavesi, Howells and John score tries for the Ospreys, Davies adds three conversions
- Bateman adds a late try for the Tigers but Ospreys take the win
- Ospreys now travel to face Belgium and Leicester, again, before Zebre visit Liberty for PRO12 opener on Friday 2nd September
They got off to the worst possible start, conceding two early tries to go 14-0 down but dug in to secure a creditable victory against a strong Leicester side.
Sam Parry and Josh Matavesi scored first half tries, with Dafydd Howells and Ben John going over after the break, Sam Davies adding three conversions.
There was a change to the starting line-up announced earlier this week, Olly Cracknell making way for Joe Bearman.
The Tigers grabbed the first try of the evening insisde six minutes, skipper Tom Youngs burrowing over from close range after some early scrum dominance for the visitors.
The response from the Ospreys was a positive one, Tyler Ardron and Davies both getting close to the line, but solid Leicester defence eventually saw them win the turnover to clear.
After a good but fruitless spell for the Ospreys, Leicester rounded off the first quarter with a well-worked move sparked off by Ellis Genge, with Matt Smith going over for Leicester’s second touchdown, the conversion from Tom Hardwicke taking them 14 points clear.
Parry eventually got the Ospreys side of the scoreboard moving when he burrowed over from inches out, after a lineout drive had been halted close to the Tigers line. Davies saw his conversion from the left come back off the near post, leaving it 5-14 with 27 minutes gone.
That deficit was reduced further 10 minutes later when Matavesi went over the corner to round off a some quick hands along the line, Davies making a good looping run before slipping it to the Fijian who had the simplest of finishes. Davies added the extras and the Ospreys now trailed by just the two points.
A lovely break from Matavesi put the Ospreys on the front foot again, carrying over halfway before putting a little dink over the top for Jeff Hassler to chase, Matthew Tait happy to kick the ball dead behind their line to prevent the Canadian grounding as he looked to pounce.
From the resulting scrum, Hassler was stopped just short under the posts as he tried to bounce his way through the Leicester defence. Wave after wave of Ospreys attacks were repelled, the Tigers eventually winning the turnover on their own line.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 12 LEICESTER TIGERS 14
The Ospreys started the second half as brightly as they’d ended the first and after Leicester halted the progress of the pack as they rumbled forward from an early line out, they patiently reset and went again, Parry denied a second try, held up over the line.
The third quarter was all about the Ospreys as they controlled the contest, knocking on the door, and it was Dafydd Howells who finally got through, collecting Davies’ long looping miss-pass for the simplest of stroll-ins, Davies with the extras, and the Ospreys now led 19-14 with a little over 20 minutes remaining.
A few minutes later, a delightful break through the midfield by Dan Evans created an opening and he found John up on his shoulder supporting well, the centre racing over for try number four. Davies’ boot again found the target as the Ospreys pulled 12 points clear.
On the back foot for most of the second period, the Tigers were eventually able to find their way into the Ospreys 22 in the closing minutes where they pounded their host’s line and, with the final play of the half, they were able to grab their third try, Greg Bateman taking full advantage of the lack of a TMO to crawl out of the tackle over the line on his hands and needs to ground the ball, Ollie Bryant bringing the came to an end with a successful conversion.
With the first win in the bag, the Ospreys now head off to Belgium on Sunday for a week long training camp before facing the Belgian national team next Friday, before travelling to Welford Road two weeks tonight for a return match against the Tigers.
The Guinness PRO12 season then kicks off at the Liberty Stadium on Friday 2nd September, 7.35pm KO.