Looking to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat on the road, the Ospreys Development team welcomed Ulster Ravens to Bridgend on Friday night.
- A young Ospreys side created their chances against an experienced Ulster pack, with Reuben Morgan-Williams, Dewi Cross and Morgan Morris all crossing the line.
- A thrilling second half saw two yellow cards and a red for Ulster, leaving the Ospreys battling to take advantage of the extra three men. But Ulster proved too strong for the young side in the penultimate round of the Celtic Cup.
The visitors took the early score on the board with a penalty in line with the posts from Bruce Houston, taking the early 0-3 lead.
But the Ospreys answered back from the restart. Turning over an Ulster attack, the young Ospreys battled through the Ulster defence to push their guests deeper into their half. A driving maul from the pack set Reuben Morgan-Williams up nicely to break through for the opening try for the Ospreys. Cai Evans having no problems with the conversion gave the Ospreys the 7-3 lead.
However, Ulster didn’t take long to race their way back into the Ospreys half. A quick break from Peter Cooper saw Ulster pierce the Ospreys defence to take back their lead. The conversion on target from Houston took the visitors 7-10 ahead.
With momentum on their side, Ulster wasted no time in powering their back up field into our 22. But as they looked for their second try, solid defence from the Ospreys forced the knock on for the visitors to hand Ospreys the scrum. Controlling the ball well in their own 22, the young Ospreys recycled the ball well and a break out wide from Dewi Cross saw the hosts make good ground out of their half. Good support from the pack saw the Ospreys win the penalty in Ulster’s half for their opponents not releasing.
With a lineout on the 22, a quick take from Guido Volpi saw the number 8 break free through Ulster’s defence, drawing in his scrum-half saw Reuben Morgan-Williams clear to score the Ospreys second try, only for the referee to call play back for a forward pass to deny the hosts the try.
Capitalising from the subsequent scrum, Ulster found the break to race back into the Ospreys half, and the experienced Ulster pack crashed their way further up field. Building an attack in the Ospreys 22, Ulster saw the advantages stack in their favour, and a quick take from Johnny Stewart saw Ulster win their second try of the game. No conversion put the score at 7-15. After awarding the try, the referee awarded Alex Jeffries a yellow card for repeated infringements from the pack as the half time whistle blew.
Half time Ospreys Development team 7 – 15 Ulster Ravens
Running out for the second half, Ulster were keen to take advantage of the extra man. A quick chase from Marcus Rea saw the visitors win their third try of the game with Houston adding the extras to extend their lead 7-22.
Despite being a man down, the young Ospreys kept their composure well and a superb break midfield from Reuben Morgan-Williams saw the scrum-half race his way out of his half. Chipping and chasing his own kick, put Ulster under pressure with the visitors grounding the ball over the line to hand the Ospreys the scrum.
Not wanting to come away from a strong attacking position empty handed, the Ospreys created the opportunity and set up Dewi Cross nicely for the break out wide to score the Ospreys second try of the game. Josh Thomas slotting the conversion put the score at 14-22.
But Ulster answered back from the restart. Turning the young Ospreys over to race clear of the line, with Rodney Ah You grounding the try. Houston having no problem with the conversion extended Ulster’s lead to 14-29.
Keeping their momentum going, Ulster did well to keep the pressure on the Ospreys taking advantage of a loose pass from the hosts, Aaron Sexton was able to chip the ball back and race clear of the line for the try under the posts! Houston with the extras took the scores to 14-36.
Looking to get back into the game, the Ospreys controlled the ball well In the next few stages of play. A good take from Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler saw the centre make good ground before a heavy tackle stopped him in his tracks. But despite the hit, Thomas-Wheeler shrugged it off to carry on with the phase and offload to keep the Ospreys in possession.
Still in control, a break from Matthew Dodd saw the young Ospreys edge even deeper into Ulster’s 22 and as the try looked imminent a deliberate knock-on from Ulster dealt the visitors a problem, with Houston awarded a yellow card for the offence.
With the Ospreys in a good attacking position, the young side battled hard against their experienced opposition and built up a solid attack. But penalties stacking against Ulster kept halting play. With the referee’s patience tested Ulster received another yellow card moments later!
Dominating this stage of territory, the Ospreys looked to take advantage of the extra two men until their chances were improved when the referee awarded Ah You a red card for an infringement at the scrum. With a scrum in Ulster’s 22 and a three-man advantage, the Ospreys looked for the gaps in play and it wasn’t long before captain Morgan Morris broke free to score his side’s third try of the game. No conversion kept the score at 19-36 with less than five minutes left to play.
But in the closing few minutes, Ulster showed their experience well. Protecting the ball in the Ospreys half, Ulster conjured up an attack to edge closer to the Ospreys 22. Looking for the final say in the game, Houston, after returning from his yellow card slotted the drop goal for the final whistle.
Speaking after the game, head coach Richard Fussell said: “It was a frustrating performance from us, I think we gave Ulster too many opportunities to gain possession which they were able capitalise on. We’ve taken a lot from the competition and there’s been big learnings from us as a group. We’ve set ourselves challenges weekly but, on this occasion, we fell short but we’ve got an opportunity next weekend to put those right. The boys showed intent and good fight towards the end of that game we just need to put in a full 80 performance rather than just reaction, and we need to be more proactive on the pitch. This group will bounce back and hopefully we’ll see them have a decent performance next week.”
Next up for the Ospreys Development side is a trip to Cardiff Arms Park next Saturday, where they face Cardiff Blues A in the final round of the Celtic Cup, K.O 2:30pm.