The Ospreys ‘A’ team scored 20 unanswered second half points, including three tries, to secure a deserved win over Sale A at Parc Eirias in Colwyn Bay on Monday night.
The first came from the experienced Richard Fussell before teenagers Tom Williams and Joe Thomas crossed the whitewash. Joel Matavesi, younger brother of Josh, added 11 points with his boot.
After a low-key opening it was the Ospreys who struck first, Matavesi with a penalty when Sale were pinged at the scrum.
It was the Ospreys who were on top, constantly probing and looking to find a way through, but resolute defence meant that they had to settle for another three pointer from their young fly-half, again after the scrum had disintegrated following a big shove from the Ospreys.
Having spent much of the first half an hour on the back foot, a penalty close to halfway allowed Sale to take some territory, going to the corner from where they drove for the line. A try seemed certain, only for skipper Andy Hughes to lose control of the ball forward as he dived for the line.
The Ospreys failed to exit cleanly from the resulting scrum and soon found themselves back on their own line in similar circumstances, but on this occasion number eight Viliami Fihaki was able to ground it.
The conversion from Tom Morton gave Sale a narrow one-point lead, and he stretched it to four points with a penalty four minutes later, the final kick of the half, after an Ospreys player was penalised for tackler not releasing.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS A 6-10 SALE A
Playing into the wind in the first half, the Ospreys were keen to take advantage of the elements after the restart, but Matavesi was off target six minutes into the second period, pushing his kick to the left of the posts after the third scum penalty of the night.
Five minutes later a big Ospreys shove at the scrum resulted in another penalty, and after Sale had been marched back 10m for backchat, Matavesi went to the corner.
From the lineout, good possession allowed the Ospreys to move the ball, Joe Thomas carried well with excellent support from Jordan Collier who was stopped just short. It was recycled quickly, and although Fussell still had a lot of work to do, he was able to find a way over the line to score the Ospreys’ first try.
Matavesi converted to put the Ospreys 13-10 to the good.
The coaches would have been pleased with the Ospreys’ dominance at the scrum, and even after completely changing the front row, they were still winning penalties at the set piece.
Just after the hour mark, Matavesi slotted his fourth kick of night, a penalty for not rolling away, and the Ospreys now led by six.
They thought they’d grabbed a second try on 68 minutes, a quick tap and go from Martin Roberts on the 22m line putting Sale on the back foot. After a couple of phases the scrum half eventually darted over from close range, only for play to be brought back by the referee after he had accidentally blocked the tackler, preventing the defender from stopping Roberts.
Nevertheless, the Ospreys were by now in total control and try number two came with 72 minutes on the clock. It was a happy return to Colwyn Bay for Tom Williams, the youngster from Montgomery in Mid Wales, who signed a development contract with the Ospreys last summer after two years with the RGC academy.
The score came after Sale had illegally halted a driving maul on their line and, with an advantage in their favour, Roberts switched the direction of play to free Williams who finished well in the corner.
Matavesi missed the conversion, before Sale found themselves behind their own line again two minutes from the end following a good Ospreys move, the ball going through the hands from right to left before intelligent running from Joe Thomas saw him beat the defence to score.
The conversion from Matavesi struck the post, and there was just enough time for Sale to launch one final attack, Charlie Ingall breaking the tackle on the line to score, Morton’s conversion bringing an entertaining contest to a close.
15 Richard Fussell, 14 Joe Thomas, 13 Aled Jenkins, 12 Ben John (Morgan Williams 40), 11 Tom Williams, 10 Joel Matavesi, 9 Martin Roberts (Capt),1 Marc Thomas (Gareth Thomas 53), 2 Sam Parry (Matthew Dwyer 53), 3 Daniel Suter (Tom Sloane 58), 4 Tevita Cavubati, 5 Rhodri Hughes, 6 Olly Cracknell, 7 Jordan Collier, 8 Ifereimi Boladau (Beard 65)
15. Luke McLean, 14. Phil Mackenzie, 13. Sam James, 12. Mark Jennings, 11. Charlie Ingall, 10. Tom Morton, 9. James Mitchell, 1. Max Cobilas, 2. Cameron Neild, 3. Alberto de Marchi, 4. George Nott, 5. Tom Sanders, 6. TJ Ioane, 7. Andy Hughes (c), 8. Viliami Fihaki.
Replacements: 16. Phil Mills, 17. James Flynn, 18. Ciaran Parker, 19. Mike Quickenden, 20. Mark Easter, 21. Conor Dever, 22. Sam Bedlow, 23. Alex Mitchell.
Tries - Fussell, T Williams, J Thomas
Con - Matavesi (1)
Pen - Matavesi (3)
Tries - Fihaki, Ingall
Con - Morton (2)
Pen - Morton (1)