The Ospreys ran in four tries as they secured the win in the first Welsh regional derby to be held in Bridgend since 2004.
The local community turned out in numbers on a cold night and were rewarded with an entertaining game including six tries, the more adventurous Ospreys team gaining a deserved victory.
An early penalty allowed Matthew Morgan to try his luck, but he was off target from a central position 42m out.
However the Ospreys were leading inside the first five minutes through a try from teenage fullback Ross Jones. The Dragons were in possession on halfway and seemed it little danger but a loose pass from Patrick Leach allowed Sonny Parker to pounce on it, and the Ospreys showed good hands to move it wide quickly, Dirksen supplying Jones out on the right touchline. The Wales U20 cap, who plays his club rugby for the Ravens, still had some work to do with big Andy Tuilagi between him and the line, but he finished off the move well in the corner, Morgan converting.
The first scrum of the night then resulted in a Dragons penalty, Steffan Jones making no mistake to bring up the Dragons first points seven minutes in.
It was already proving to be an open affair, Tuilagi crashing through a gap in the Ospreys defence and Eli Walker then looking to run it back at the Dragons, before an offside decision in front of the posts allowed Steffan Jones to put over his second penalty.
An overthrown Dragons lineout on halfway then proved costly, Tom Habberfield doing extremely well to juggle the ball before finally gathering and then looking to move the ball immediately. Captain Sonny Parker did extremely well to delay the pass long enough for Dirksen to collect at pace and there was no stopping the wing, who crossed for the Ospreys second try, Morgan’s conversion taking the score up to 14-6.
The Ospreys were guilty of playing themselves into trouble, Morgan knocking on in the tackle as he tried to run it out from his own 22, allowing the Dragons to strike with real intent. Tuilagi carried well before the ball was fed to Leach whose initial progress to the line was halted by Dirksen but he wasn’t held, allowing him to finish off the job, the TMO confirming the score. Steffan Jones was unlucky with his conversion attempt, striking the upright from a tight angle.
Morgan was off target with a penalty kick from 38m out after the Dragons were pinged for not rolling away, Jones faring better a couple of minutes later with a kick from close to the touchline to level things at 14-apiece just after the half hour.
A series of Dragons offences allowed the Ospreys to work their way up into the corner, opting to go for the lineout on each occasion, and while many in the crowd were questioning why referee Greg Garner hadn’t shown yellow to a Dragons player for persistent offences, the Ospreys lost possession, knocking on close to the tryline.
The resulting scrum saw the visitors penalised, the Ospreys choosing to go for the reset, and when it collapsed following a strong Ospreys shove, the Dragons captain received a team warning. However, next time, the penalty went the other way, allowing the Dragons to clear.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 14 DRAGONS 14
Morgan spurned an opportunity to put his side back in front shortly after the restart, again from a central position 40m or so out.
With 48 minutes gone a solid scrum on the 22 gave the Ospreys something to attack from, Watermeyer twice driving forward, Morgan Allen also having a go, before Walker was able to twist and turn his way over from close range, Morgan converting.
After a scrappy spell with both teams tossing away possession, the Ospreys grabbed their fourth try. Habberfield did extremely well to secure the high ball under pressure, offloading to Sam Lewis immediately. The openside spun a great pass out to Watermeyer and there was no stopping the South African as he charged forward 40m to mark his debut with a try. Morgan missed the conversion, leaving the Ospreys advantage at 12 points.
Back came the Dragons, working through the phases until they created an overlap on their left. Tuilagi looked certain to score but Morgan got across well in defence. However, Chauncey O’Toole was pinged at the breakdown and sent to the sinbin, leaving the Ospreys with 14 men for 10 minutes.
Despite being a man down it was the Ospreys who looked to score next, good lineout ball allowing Tom Grabham and Scott Baldwin to drive forward, setting up Morgan who went for a drop goal attempt that TMO Paul Adams ruled off target.
A great break from Grabham then relieved the pressure as the Dragons looked to make the most of the extra man, replacement wing Luke Morgan almost getting on the end of namesake Matthew’s grubber into the corner.
As the clock ticked down, replacement fly-half Sam Davies went for the posts to try and take the game more than two converted tries away from the Dragons but his first attempt in senior regional rugby drifted off target.
The final minutes were played out on the Ospreys line as the Dragons looked for the final score, Luke Williams eventually forcing his way over with Lewis Robling’s conversion bringing an entertaining evening to an end.