The Premier 4x4 Challenge honours went to the Ospreys, but it was regional rugby that was the winner on a successful evening at the Gnoll.
A healthy crowd turned up for an intriguing evening of rugby, with an Ospreys side doing battle with all four of the senior clubs in the region in a series of four 20 minutes contests, with a new team entering the field at the end of every ‘quarter’ to provide a fresh challenge to the Ospreys team.
GAME 1 - Ospreys v Aberavon
The Ospreys took control early on, Sam Davies putting them into the Aberavon corner early on after a Wizards offence close to halfway. The first driving maul, with big second rows Adam Beard and Rory Thornton prominent, was repelled, but another offence gave the Ospreys another go.
This time they were held up short, but the ball was recycled quickly, Martin Roberts spinning it to Aisea Natoga who was hugging the right touchline. However, with the try line beckoning and the simplest of scores awaiting, the Fijian failed to gather the simplest of passes and the chance went begging.
Minutes later a promising move came to nothing in a similar position after a jinking run from Sam Davies took the Ospreys into the 22. He was brought down 15m out but the ball was again moved left, where Dafydd Howells’ overhead pass failed to find Natoga, the ball going dead over the touchline.
It was being played out entirely in the Wizards territory but the Premiership side were proving resilient in defence. An Aberavon error almost handed the Ospreys the lead in the final minute, a poorly executed clearance kick falling to Roberts on the 22m line, allowing the scrum to burst towards the line. He found centre Aled Jenkins in support, who was held up on short, the ball being spilt forward as the Ospreys recycled. Aberavon then put the ball dead, allowing them to claim a creditable 0-0 draw.
OSPREYS 0 ABERAVON 0
GAME 2 - Ospreys v Bridgend Ravens
Having held the initiative for 20 minutes in game one without troubling the scorers, the Ospreys were ahead within a minute of the second match commencing.
A quickly taken free-kick put them on the front foot, straight running taking them into the Bridgend 22 where Ross Jones took the scoring pass for an easy finish, his try converted by Sam Davies.
With 10 minutes on the clock, a penalty to the Ospreys in kickable range was marched towards metres of the line following a spot of afters from a Bridgend player, the men in black opting for a scrum right in front of the posts. The first scrum saw the Ravens penalised, and following the reset the ball was worked to the corner where Howells was held up short.
A powerful Tom Morgan run put the Ravens back up the other end, where they fashioned an opening on the right but poor timing saw Steve Williams finding himself inadvertently getting in the way of his back row colleague Mike Phillips on the line, blocking the Ospreys defender and somehow preventing what looked a likely try with four minutes or so remaining.
With the tails up, Bridgend were sniffing a draw but a young Ospreys side was able to hold their line firm without any further problems.
OSPREYS 7 BRIDGEND RAVENS 0
GAME 3 - Ospreys v Swansea
The third game began in the same fashion as the first, with the Ospreys on the offensive, but there was a delay for prop Dan Suter to receive medical treatment following a crunching tackle from Swansea hooker Paul John. Although he was able initially able to continue, he was withdrawn from the action shortly after.
While the region was on top, the third contest was proving to be a very scrappy affair with both teams turning over possession cheaply, Swansea doing a fine job of spoiling at the breakdown.
Scoring opportunities had been non-existent, but with 16 minutes gone the Ospreys grabbed the only try of a messy contest, Natoga doing well to power his way to within inches of the line, Ben John then first to the breakdown to pick up and dive over in one movement, dabbing down close to the corner flag. Davies’ touchline conversion looked good, only to swing out at the last moment to strike the outside of the near post.
The last play of the match saw the Ospreys camped on the Whites’ line, and they looked to carve a second score as Sam Davies came in late to collect off Roberts’ shoulder to crash over the line, only to lose control of the ball as he went down, leaving the difference between the two sides at the whistle at just the one score.
OSPREYS 5 SWANSEA 0
GAME 4 - Ospreys v Neath
The final game of the evening saw the hosts go head to head with the region, and it was the visitors who almost opened the scoring, Howells looking to squeeze through the tightest of gaps on the left, only to be ankle tapped into touch by opposite number Jordan Griffiths.
A break up the right from Rhodri Cole took Neath up the other end, and with second row Jesse Patton in support a try looked on for the All Blacks, only for the big lock to over run his fly half, forcing him to check, knocking on Ross Jones tackled.
With their tails up, Neath looked to grab the opening try, the pack rumbling forward ominously from close range, eventually finding a gap for number eight James Locke to score the first try against the Ospreys on the night, converted by Cole.
The Ospreys hit straight back though, Neath guilty of killing the ball on the ground, and after Davies went to the corner, quick line out ball allowed Natoga to crash over for the try. Davies added the extras, levelling things with eight minutes to go.
Dirksen then got on the end of a lovely little dink through from Sam Davies, being hauled down close to the line. Neath players went down to ground, killing it, and a quickly taken penalty saw the ball swung wide to the right where eventually Dirksen did dab down to score. Davies again converted, to make it 14-7 to the Ospreys.
A great evening was ended slightly prematurely after Thornton received precautionary treatment following a bang to the head, the game being brought to a close a minute early after Thornton was helped from the field.
OSPREYS 14 NEATH 7