The Ospreys ran in eight tries on their way to a resounding win on a historic night at a rainsoaked Riverside Hardware Brewery Field.
They were 29-10 ahead at the break, following touchdowns from Kristian Phillips, Matthew Morgan, Richard Fussell, Ashley Beck and Rhys Webb, and they made sure of the victory with three more after the break, Phillips getting his second before a late try by Sonny Parker and a penalty try in the last minute put the icing on the cake.
The rain had hammered down all day, leaving a very heavy looking pitch at kick-off time, but the inclement weather clearly hadn’t deterred the Bridgend public who had turned out in big numbers for the first ever Ospreys home game at the Riverside Hardware Brewery Field, with an impressive crowd of 6,632 ensuring the night was a huge success on and off the field.
It was Leicester who opened the scoring in the seventh minute after Duncan Jones was penalised for not rolling away, fly-half George Ford making no mistake from 30m out on the right hand side.
The Ospreys hit back in style, taking the lead through Phillips just two minutes later. With advantage being played, the young wing showed good hands to pick up Morgan’s pass off his bootlaces, before chipping behind Will Hurrell and beating Stephen MaCauley in the race to ground it, Morgan’s conversion attempt just missing.
They almost worked a second try following some excellent work on the ground by skipper Mefin Davies, the ex Tigers man stealing Leicester ball near halfway. It was worked out quickly to Richard Fussell, who accelerated away before chipping forward but the Leicester cover was able to clear the danger.
The try wasn’t long in coming though, as just a minute later the Ospreys doubled their lead through a wonderful piece of opportunism from 18-year old fly-half Morgan, taking Rhys Webb’s pass and producing an outrageous dummy pass before skipping through an almost non existent gap to score, although he was unsuccessful with the conversion once again.
It got even better for the Ospreys shortly after as they scored their third try with only 20 minutes gone. With the rain starting to ease, the hosts launched an attack from their own half, Fussell, Webb and Tom Prydie making good yardage. The fullback’s pass was loose and went to ground, but Fussell was alert, picking up the loose ball and there was no stopping him, Morgan converting.
Unbelievably, a fourth try came three minutes later, Morgan’s pass picking out the clever running of Ashley Beck who cruised through a gap in the Leicester defence to score a try that went unconverted.
The Bridgend public were enjoying an entertaining spectacle, and with the half hour approaching it was five tries for the Ospreys following a good break by Morgan from his own half. Conor McInerney was in support, carrying well, before offloading to Webb who raced over from the 22. A change in kicker saw Prydie converting to make it 29-3.
Leicester were looking shellshocked, but they showed good character to strike back with their first try of the night, skipper Ben Piennar being driven over under the posts from close range, Ford adding the extras. Next, a great break from Hurrell saw him carry the ball 50 metres upfield, shrugging off the challenge from Phillips, but Morgan’s excellent cover tackle halted the Tigers progress.
The Ospreys lost number eight Andy Lloyd to injury shortly before half-time after he took a blow at a ruck, Marty Holah replacing him in the back row.
HALF-TIME: OSPREYS 29 LEICESTER TIGERS 10
The second half may have started slower, but it burst into life eight minutes in. First it was Ford who got his third successful kick of the night for the Tigers, before the Ospreys got yet another try, again well worked and with Bridgend teenager Morgan at the heart of it. The fly-half broke well from his own half, carrying it 40metres up field before spotting a gap in the corner, putting a perfectly weighted grubber through for wing Phillips to ground in the corner, Prydie off target with the conversion attempt.
Richard Hibbard, Ian Gough and Barry Davies were all introduced to the action, before the Ospreys lost Webb with an arm injury, Jamie Nutbrown replacing him.
With conditions deteriorating and a number of substitutions being made, the second half was failing to match the first in terms of excitement, but there was a memorable moment just after the hour when young prop Joe Rees entered the action for his senior Ospreys debut.
Handling was proving more and more difficult with the ball beginning to resemble a bar of soap as the rain hammered down once again, but Beck did well to carry on two occasions in quick succession, the first time throwing a lovely dummy to confuse the opposition.
Matthew Morgan received the crowd’s applause when he left the field with 10 minutes remaining, Gareth Owen replacing him, while Cai Griffiths took the place of Duncan Jones in the front row.
The Ospreys were looking to round the game off in style, and the seventh try arrived five minutes from the end, Beck showing good awareness as the ball was recycled from a ruck to send a grubber through behind a very flat Leicester defence, allowing Sonny Parker able to canter over to ground unopposed. Owen became the third Osprey kicker of the night, but like Morgan and Prydie before him, he failed to conquer the conditions and was off target.
Barry Davies thought he’d added another try as he attempted to drive over from close range, but the TMO ruled that he had been held up, awarding a scrum five to the Ospreys. The first scrum saw the Ospreys shove the Tigers backwards, and as they buckled, a penalty was awarded, the hosts predictably opting to reset the scrum. Again, the Ospreys drove forward with a similar outcome and the penalty try was awarded, Owen converting from in front of the posts to round off a memorable evening for his team.