Man of the Match Justin Tipuric scored two tries as the Ospreys got back to winning ways with a bonus-point victory over the Dragons.Replacement hooker Scott Baldwin clinched the bonus point after a penalty try and Tipuric’s brace with Dan Biggar kicking seventeen points and Matthew Morgan adding a drop-goal.
It was the visitors who dominated the early exchanges with all the possession and territory. After Italian fly-half, Kris Burton was off-target with an early drop-goal attempt, Andrew Coombs and Tom Prydie tried their luck down the blindside. Prydie’s grubbar kick through ricocheted back into the hands of the Dragons skipper, Coombs, who drew his man to put former Ospreys winger over in the corner. Burton slotted the tough conversion.
Just a few minutes later, the Dragons defenders failed to retreat giving the Ospreys the chance to open their account from the kicking tee. Dan Biggar, starting at fullback for the first time in his career, reduced the deficit to four points.
Soon after, Matthew Morgan spotted a mismatch in midfield, shrugged off a few tackles and went on one of his trademark runs from within his own half. Some great covering defence from Toby Faletau brought Morgan down just short of the line but Justin Tipuric received the offload from his outside-half, showed off his juggling skills, before dotting down beneath the posts. Biggar added the two.
The Dragons almost hit back immediately as Coombs, who was involved again, linked with his other winger, Hallam Amos but the visitors were thwarted by some last ditch tackles from Biggar and Jeff Hassler.
As the injured Aaron Jarvis was replaced by Adam Jones just before the half mark, Biggar stepped up to extend his team’s lead following some ill-discipline at the breakdown from the Dragons. The men of Gwent replied with three points of their own as Burton stepped back into the pocket to attempt another drop at goal which this time, he landed.
As half-time approached, the Ospreys continued on the hunt for another try with Tipuric coming close to bagging his second try after peeling from the back of a powerful driving maul but handling errors provided the Dragons with possession. In the end, the hosts settled to re-establish their six-point lead with a Biggar penalty.
HALF TIME: OSPREYS 16 DRAGONS 10
It was the Ospreys who started the second-half on the front foot, making camp in the visitors half. Alun Wyn Jones lead his pack through phase after phase before Morgan decided to put some daylight between the two sides and dropped a goal.
A mere two minutes later, scrum half Tom Habberfield sent his openside, Tipuric through the middle of the lineout. With just the fullback to beat, a cheeky chip from the all-round Tipuric bounced kindly into his hands as the Welsh international grabbed his brace. The two points were added by Biggar.
The Ospreys continued to control the game with Morgan and Biggar looking threatening with the ball in hand. Andrew Bishop, Jonathan Spratt and Eli Walker were making strong runs into Dragons territory but it was Tipuric who came closest to scoring and grabbing his hat-trick try. The Dragons were reduced to 14 men as Dragons replacement back rower prevented an Ospreys attack
With a man advantage in the pack, the Ospreys opted to take the scrum near their opponent’s five-metre line. The extra weight paid dividends as the Dragons open-side, Lewis Evans lost his bind when his team’s scrum started to back-pedal. Nigel Owens, refereeing his 100th Celtic League match, awarded the penalty try to the hosts with no hesitation.
With the victory almost certain, the home team went on the search for a bonus-point try. An attacking lineout provided the Ospreys with the platform to get the all-important score. The Dragons looked to have stopped the threat but replacement hooker, Scott Baldwin crept down the touchline from the back of a driving maul to bag the Ospreys their fourth try and a bonus point. Biggar maintained his 100% goal-kicking performance to score the two-pointer.
Soon after, Coombs put in a cool tactical kick to the corner that any outside-half would be proud of. The Ospreys tried to take their lineout quickly but were unable to gather the ball. The ball fell loose to Dragons tight-head Francisco Chapparo who crashed over to score a consolation try for his team. Burton added the conversion.
FULL TIME: OSPREYS 40 DRAGONS 17