The Ospreys returned to winning ways at the Liberty Stadium with a resounding bonus point derby victory, running in seven tries as they scored a record points tally against the Blues.
- The Ospreys record their biggest ever points tally over the Blues, running in seven tries with a bonus point secured inside 40 minutes
- Walker (2), Jones, Arhip, John, Evans and Matavesi score as Ospreys take their tally to 32 tries in six games
- The victory makes it 11 straight PRO12 wins over the Blues and 12 unbeaten in this fixture, with the Blues still looking for their first championship win at the Liberty since December 2005
- Next up for the Ospreys is a Challenge Cup against Newcastle at the Liberty next Friday which is NOT televised
It was the visitors who scored first, and they led at the end of the first quarter, but a yellow card for Dan Fish proved costly, the Ospreys running in three tries before the Blues full back returned to the action, Alun Wyn Jones and a brace from Eli Walker putting the hosts in control.
The bonus point was secured before half-time through Dmitri Arhip and the romp continued in the second half with three more, Ben John, Dan Evans and Josh Matavesi scoring as the Blues headed home empty handed.
Gareth Anscombe got the game underway and it was the Blues, in pink, who enjoyed the best of the early exchanges, the Ospreys defence looking more than comfortable as they kept the visitors at bay.
It was the Wales fly-half with the first points of the evening on 10 minutes, a straightforward penalty, but the Ospreys were level through Sam Davies just a minute later, Taufa’ao Filise flying into a ruck off his feet.
The first try of the night went to the Blues after they were awarded a penalty on their own 10m line, allowing Anscombe to put them up into the Ospreys 22. Good lineout ball saw the visiting pack marching the Ospreys backwards and it was Kristian Dacey who dabbed down for the score that Anscombe converted from the left hand touchline.
The Ospreys were finally able to get a foothold in the game as the 20 minute mark approached and the pressure told when the Blues were reduced to 14 when Fish was sent to the sin bin for tackling Sam Davies without the ball after the Ospreys 10 had charged down his clearance kick.
The Ospreys took full advantage of the extra man to draw level immediately, captain Jones diving over a pile of bodies to ground the ball for his 20th for the region, taking him equal with namesake Ryan as the top forward in the all-time list. Davies converted.
The hosts were ahead five minutes later with a well worked score that saw the forwards make the hard yards before a lovely dummy run from Ben John created a gap for Walker to glide into and collect Davies’ offload before jinking his way over the line for a score that went unconverted.
With Fish on the sidelines still waiting to return it got even better for the Ospreys as they grabbed a third try in 10 minutes, a second for Walker.
Evans made the initial break with a direct run through the middle before both Sam Parry and Evans himself were brought down close to the line. With the Blues’ defence looking stretched, Rhys Webb was alert to Walker on the blindside, the winger stretching over for his 23rd career try, taking him above Ashley Beck and Dan Biggar to ninth in the all-time list and one behind Gavin Henson.
With the Blues back up to 15 they looked to find a way through and work their way back into the contest before the break but it was the Ospreys who scored next to clinch a first half bonus point.
It was Matavesi who launched a counter-attack from deep inside his own half, a bold dummy taking out two defenders and giving him the space to make his way upfield. Jeff Hassler went down injured in the build-up and would depart the action on a stretcher a minute later, but the Ospreys were relentless and kept going, Ben John brought down inches short before Arhip powered over for try number four. Davies’ conversion came back off the post but the Ospreys had one point secure inside 40 minutes.
There was still time for the Blues to come back at the hosts, Rey Lee-Lo creating room for Macauley Cook, who opted to go on his own instead of feeding Tom James, and it was Bradley Davies who put in a big hit to force the ball forward, allowing name sake Sam to bring the first half to a satisfying conclusion, putting the ball out of play.
OSPREYS 27 CARDIFF BLUES 10
Try number five came within 30 seconds of the restart and it was the in-form John in the corner with his fifth of the season.
Ashley Beck, on for Hassler, almost found his way through, haring up the wing to collect a bouncing ball from Davies’ kick-off after the Blues failed to collect.
The centre was pulled down but the Ospreys swung the ball the width of the field where John was able to step in from the touchline and score, the try awarded after referee, Nigel Owens, and TMO, Tim Hayes, had reviewed the grounding.
Davies converted and the Ospreys now led by 24.
The Liberty was bouncing and the home supporters were on their feet again five minutes later, celebrating a lovely score that was build on aggressive defence, James King forcing the turnover on the Blues 22 as the visitors tried to run it from deep.
With space on the left it was moved quickly to Beck who’s run and offload created the chance for Evans, hitting the line at pace and there was no stopping the full back from close range for a score that went unconverted.
The Ospreys were in cruise control as they emptied the bench with the likes of Tom Habberfield, Dan Biggar and Dan Lydiate entering the action, along with Paul James for his 200th appearance for his home region, but they were served a wake-up call when the Blues claimed their second following some sloppiness in midfield. Beck’s loose pass allowed Tom James to race through from halfway to score under the posts, Anscombe adding the extras.
The score was 39-17 at this point, just inside the final quarter, but any hopes of a late, unlikely Blues renaissance were firmly extinguished within minutes, a prolonged spell of multi-phase Ospreys pressure rounded off by Matavesi bursting through the Blues cover and carrying two defenders over the line with him to score his team’s seventh. Biggar added the extras.
The sheer bloody mindedness of the hosts shone through as the clock ticked into the final 10 minutes, a long period of Blues attacking inside the opposition 22 getting nowhere, eventually ending in a penalty to the Ospreys on their own line, to huge cheers from the home supporters.
With just a couple of minutes remaining the Blues did score their third, Lee-Lo twisting and turning his way over in the corner for a good finish confirmed by the TMO.
Anscombe added the extras but the Ospreys looked to have the final say from a scrum deep inside the Blues 22, Beck sliding over the line with time up only to have it chalked off after replays showed a clear foot in touch.
Regardless of that decision, there was no spoiling the night for the Ospreys, who celebrated a memorable evening in style before the focus switches to next Friday’s European Rugby Challenge Cup opener against Newcastle Falcons at the Liberty Stadium.