Ahead of Saturday’s game in Bloemfontein, we take a look at the story behind this iconic image of a previous clash between the Ospreys and Toyota Cheetahs.
In February 2018, the Cheetahs made their first ever visit to the Liberty Stadium, where the Ospreys clinched a crucial win in late and dramatic fashion.
The hosts overturned a 12-point deficit to secure a dramatic win through a final minute try on a night of milestones as Ashley Beck scored his 29th Ospreys try to draw level with Sonny Parker as seventh in the all-time list for the Ospreys. Sam Cross scored his first ever Guinness PRO14 try to bring the Ospreys right back in it before Ifan Phillips touched down in the last minute. The game was clinched through Davies’ final conversion, which took him to 12 points on the night.
It was one-way traffic in the opening exchanges and just after the 10th minute, the first score of the evening arrived as the Cheetahs opted to keep it tight at the lineout and drove their way over from close range for Torsten van Jaarsveld to score, the try going unconverted. This lead was shortly extended further as the backs and forwards combined to give Reniel Hugo the simplest of finishes under the posts, brushing off some ineffectual tackling to score, Niel Marais converting.
Despite not troubling the scorers, the Ospreys were starting to enjoy more possession as the half-time whistle approached. A good break from deep saw the ball worked wide to the right where Guy Mercer freed Jeff Hassler to carry 50m upfield to the Cheetahs’ 22. Hands in the ruck saw the Ospreys awarded a penalty, Sam Davies slotting over the kick to send his team down the tunnel trailing by nine at the break.
The Ospreys began the second half with increased urgency and were rewarded with their first try inside three minutes. Good pressure and positive intent eventually led to Beck winning the ball in contact before showing great strength to power his way over. Davies’ conversion meant the deficit was now just two points.
The Cheetahs hit back almost instantly with a length of the field score when Hassler was caught between going for the ball carrier and the man on the overlap. The outside pass allowed Nico Lee to carry almost 80-metres for the score, Marias with the extras, taking the score to 10-19.
Despite the setback, try number two for the Ospreys arrived in the 55th minute. Good work from Guy Mercer, Dan Evans and Beck eventually saw Cross collecting the ball at speed to score his third try in five games for the Ospreys, his first in the PRO14, converted by Davies.
Just two minutes later, Hassler’s telegraphed pass in midfield was picked off with ease by Craig Barry, the winger racing clear to score the bonus point try from 60m, converted by Marais.
The Ospreys were now enjoying the better territory and possession, despite the two lengthy run-ins that meant they were behind on the scoreboard, and they were back within a converted try with 11-minutes to play, Davies with the three after some exceptional rucking work from Mercer won the penalty.
Mercer was in the thick of it again when his pressure forced the ball forward in the pass, and stopped what looked a certain try for the South Africans.
That proved crucial as, with the clock ticking down, the Ospreys were able to get back up-field for one last opportunity and it was hooker Phillips, who crashed over the whitewash to bring his team to within one point with just a minute left to play.
It was a difficult kick but Davies made no mistake to put his team ahead for the first time, with only 20 seconds left to play.
The Ospreys had to withstand one last moment of pressure from the restart but they secured turnover ball allowing the outside half to put the ball out for a hard-earned win.