The Ospreys ran in four tries to secure a bonus point win over Conference B leaders Leinster at the Liberty Stadium, their fifth victory in the last six Guinness PRO14 matches.
- Dan Evans scores two to become fifth highest Ospreys try scorer of all time
- Tom Habberfield and Justin Tipuric also score, while Dan Biggar kicks 12 points
- A third win on the bounce, the Ospreys have now won five of the last six games in the Guinness PRO14 going back to New Year's Eve
- Victory takes Ospreys above Connacht in the race for the Champions Cup play-offs, with the Irish province next to visit the Liberty Stadium in two weeks time
There was a first half brace for Dan Evans that took him level with Hanno Dirksen in fifth place in the region’s all-time try scoring list on 32.
Tom Habberfield also touched down before the break before Justin Tipuric secured the bonus point with try number four 10 minutes after the break. Dan Biggar also kicked 12 points, with three conversions and two penalties, missing just the one attempt on the night.
After an entertaining, if scrappy, opening it was the visitors who got the first points of the night, Ross Byrne with a simple kick in front of the posts after Sam Cross was unfortunate to find himself offside in his 22 following some great rucking by his colleagues in black.
There was an enforced early change for the Ospreys, Olly Cracknell exiting in the 12th minute to be replaced by Rob McCusker.
That didn’t unsettle the hosts though as within a minute they had the lead, the opening try started and finished by Evans.
It was the full-back’s quick thinking with a quick throw in to Biggar midway inside their own half that ultimately sparked a lovely move that saw backs and forwards linking up well, Tipuric with a lovely break up the left, supported by Hanno Dirksen, the winger unselfishly drawing the last man before slipping the scoring pass inside to Evans.
Biggar slotted the conversion from the touchline and the Ospreys led 7-3 with 13 minutes played.
The Ospreys were playing with confidence, looking dangerous every time they had the ball, and it came as no surprise when they stretched their lead in the 25th minute, Evans going over in the same corner after great work by Kieron Fonotia, sucking in four defenders before flicking it out of the back door to his full-back who juggled the ball before going over.
This time, the angle proved too much for Biggar who pushed his kick across goal and wide to the right.
It had been a dominant performance from the Ospreys, the physical toll on Leinster seeing them using up all three backline replacements before 35 minutes were on the clock, and try number three arrived three minutes before the break.
With a penalty advantage for offside in the Leinster 22, Ashley Beck made a lovely break before offloading to Habberfield, the scrum half cantering over for a score converted by Biggar.
There was still time for Leinster, who had barely been in the contest, to get their first try after Adam Byrne won the ball from the restart, before punting the ball through for Barry Daly to touch down. The TMO confirmed the score which went unconverted.
OSPREYS 19-8 LEINSTER
There’s always a danger that half-time comes at the wrong time for a team in the lead, so everyone at the Ospreys would have been relieved to see their team survive an early second half onslaught, dogged defence eventually winning a penalty 10m from their line after a period of intense Leinster pressure.
Having got through that the Ospreys were able to work their way back into Leinster territory and, with 50 on the clock, secured the bonus point with another lovely try.
Again, the constant pressure they were putting on Leinster meant they had a penalty advantage in the danger area, but great interplay between the centres ended with Fonotia hauled down metres short, where he was able to offload off the floor to Tipuric who was left with the simplest of finishes, Biggar adding the extras.
With the Ospreys now leading by 18 any early thoughts that the win was in the bag were blown away immediately as Leinster struck for their second try just three minutes later. Luke McGrath put through a testing kick from the back of a maul inside the Leinster 22 and the bounce sat up lovely for Rory O’Loughlin, the centre grounding at full stretch.
Joey Carbery converted and he split the posts again shortly after with a 40m penalty, McCusker penalised on the ground, referee John Lacey ignoring Alun Wyn Jones’ requests to review an aerial challenge that had left Evans flat out on the floor just prior to the awarding of Leinster’s penalty.
Biggar then slotted three points Jamie Gibson-Park killing the ball, to take the Ospreys lead back up to 11 points with 20 minutes to play.
The closing stages were nip and tuck but, in the main, the Ospreys were looking comfortable, Biggar’s second penalty with time up rounding off a big win that moves them above Connacht in Conference A and in the driving seat for a Champions Cup play-off spot.