The Ospreys scored four tries as they backed up two weeks of positive performances in Europe with a much needed bonus point win over the Dragons at the Liberty Stadium.
- Ospreys score two tries in each half to secure a bonus point win, their first PRO14 victory since Round 1
- Biggar and Parry scored in the first half with Leonard and Fia adding second half tries
- There was a significant blow on the hour mark, Giles stretchered off after a collision with Hewitt
There were tries for Dan Biggar and Sam Parry in the first half, before Brendon Leonard and Ma’afu Fia touched down in the final quarter, Biggar also adding two penalties and a conversion to his personal tally as the hosts secured their second Guinness PRO14 win of the campaign.
Remarkably, the win means the Ospreys have now recorded 12 consecutive victories in this fixture, not tasting defeat to the Dragons since January 2012.
After a quiet opening five or so minutes an incredible passage of play saw the Ospreys working their way up from their own 22 to the opposite end. There was great patience and no little skill as they went through 26 phases, Ashley Beck, Tom Habberfield and Alun Wyn Jones prominent on more than one occasion only to run into a red wall of defiance. Biggar was eventually bundled into touch five metres out as he looked to snipe up the blindside.
It was all Ospreys as they maintained their presence in the Dragons half, always probing, looking to keep the ball alive and trusting their skills.
A Dragons offside then sparked another lengthy spell of Ospreys pressure, their lineout drive repelled inches short of the line and they then spun it the width of the field and back again, Biggar just unable to free Sam Cross.
An incredible first quarter of relentless Ospreys pressure continued and as the clock ticked past 20 minutes, so did the phases as the hosts worked through another 21 to eventually create the space for the opening try of the night.
Defenders were being sucked in and holes opened up, allowing Biggar space to drift across Gavin Henson and Ashton Hewitt to finish well. His conversion from the left was just short of the near stick.
All the hard work to secure the lead was undone in a flash when the visitors were handed an opportunity to pressure in their opponents' 22 after the Ospreys were guilty of putting the ball out on the full after taking it back.
To their credit the Dragons took full advantage and, despite having not been in the contest for 30 minutes, they took the lead as the first half moved into the last 10 minutes.
Hallam Amos was inches short from touching down after good work from Hewitt before Leon Brown burrowed his way over from close range, Henson with the extras.
The Ospreys retook the lead immediately though, Keelan Giles claiming the restart to launch an attack that saw the ball going left and then right through 13-phases and was rounded off by Giles eventually supplying the final pass for Parry, the hooker sliding over the line to score out wide.
Biggar’s usually ultra reliable radar was off once again as, for the second time, he missed the conversion, but he had better luck a couple of minutes later with a penalty from close to the 10m line after Cory Hill was pinged for offside.
The Dragons looked to hit back and end the half on a positive, and hands in the ruck from Dmitri Arhip allowed Henson to go for goal with time up but although it seemed within his range and was in a central position, he couldn’t find the target.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 13-7 DRAGONS
A high tackle on James King by Brok Harris allowed Biggar to take the Ospreys another three points clear at the start of the second period.
The Dragons were not going to throw the towel in despite spending most of the game to this point on the back foot and they served notice of the firepower in their backline with a stunning attack from a lineout on halfway, Hewitt haring up the right but unable to find Dragons hands with his offload, the ball drifting forward.
However, the Ospreys were penalised at the resulting scrum, the Dragons went to the corner and the pack rumbled forward towards the line, the TMO eventually ruling that Elliott Dee had got the ball down. Henson’s successful conversion meant that the Ospreys’ lead was now just two points.
Where the first half had been all about the Ospreys dominating but perhaps not getting the points on the board they possibly deserved, the third quarter was a far more even contest, scrappier and lacking any rhythm as the Dragons threatened to upset their hosts.
There was a real blow for the Ospreys when Giles had to be stretchered off on the hour, Ashton Hewitt taking him out as the wingers contested Giles’ kick chase, the home support frustrated by big screen replays that they felt indicated a TMO referral may have been worthwhile.
Despite that setback the Ospreys stuck to their task and winning a scrum penalty they spurned three kickable points and went to the corner. The first attempt to drive over was halted illegally so again Biggar put the ball into touch. This time Alun Wyn Jones soared high, the forwards drove and on this occasion it was Leonard who finished it off. For the third time the conversion was off target, and the scoreboard read 21-14.
With the Ospreys back in control try four - and with it the bonus point - came six minutes later, with 10 still to play. It was a case of the hosts laying siege on the Dragons line from the lineout and eventually punching the hole, Fia driving over and Biggar adding the two.
The win was in the bag and although they pressed for a fifth try there was to be no further scoring and the Ospreys now head to Scotland next weekend to face Edinburgh on Saturday 4th November.