The Ospreys ended their LV= Cup campaign with a defeat at a snowbound Sixways.
They took an early lead through Matthew Morgan but a more experienced Worcester side built up a lead, scoring 14 points when flanker Sam Lewis was in the sinbin, meaning a late Hanno Dirksen try wasn't enough to see the Ospreys come back for the win.
The game got underway to a backdrop of snow flurries, with a light dusting covering areas of the pitch which was in perfect condition having been covered by a heated dome until just an hour before kick-off.
The Ospreys began positively and they opened the scoring through a Morgan try with just five minutes gone. The move began inside their own 22, Dirksen fielding an Andy Goode up and under before breaking at pace, evading several tackle as he carried to the Worcester 10m line. Patient play then saw the Ospreys recycling, eventually working it left to Morgan who spotted space behind the defensive line and dinked a little grubber through before winning the race to ground it, picking himself up to score the conversion.
The conditions were more suited to forward grunt than flair from the backs, and that was typified by a Worcester driving maul from a lineout on the Ospreys 10m line that rumbled forward ominously to inside the visitors 22, referee Ian Davies eventually awarding a scrum to Worcester after the Ospreys defence had fought hard to halt their opponents progress via legal means.
The Ospreys pack did a good job at the scrum, disrupting Worcester, and when scrum half Shaun Perry fumbled his opposite number Rhys Webb was able to clear.
A clever Goode kick soon put Worcester back in the same area, Dirksen and Richard Fussell combining well to deal with a tricky situation as a strong kick-chase put them under pressure close to their own line.
At this stage it was all Worcester and a penalty against the Ospreys for collapsing the scrum gave the hosts the chance to get the scoreboard moving, only for Goode to go to the corner despite being in a kickable position. From the lineout the Ospreys dealt with the rolling maul well, and then had to scramble to cover, Sam Lewis halting Marcel Garvey close to the line, only for the game to be brought back for an Ospreys offside.
This time there was no stopping the Worcester pack as Jake Abbott was driven over from close range, Goode converting to level.
The maul was proving to be Worcester’s most potent weapon and it looked like they were going to use that option again when Goode put a penalty to the corner, but on this occasion it was moved quickly through the hands, former Osprey Ed Shervington stopped inches short, the TMO confirming he hadn’t crossed the line.
As Worcester continued to pressurise, the Ospreys found themselves reduced to 14 when Sam Lewis was yellow carded for killing the ball close to their line. Goode again opted to go for the corner, but this time the visitors were able to stop the maul, the penalty eventually going their way.
As the snowfall got heavier, both teams were guilty of unforced errors as the weather continued to be the key factor, the sides remaining level at the break.
HALF-TIME: WORCESTER WARRIORS 7 OSPREYS 7
With the extra man it was Worcester who were straight on the offensive after the restart, and it didn’t take them long to grab their second try through Josh Drauniniu, the wing handily placed to finish off after a series of pick and go’s had taken his team close to the Ospreys line, sucking in defenders before the ball was spun wide. Goode’s successful conversion from close to the touchline made it 14-7.
Just a couple of minutes later, Drauniniu was crossing for his second in exactly the same spot, a simple finish once again after a quick move from a Worcester lineout on the Ospreys 10m line, Goode again converting.
Now with 15 on the pitch again, back came the Ospreys, and with 51 minutes gone they fashioned a second try, through wing Dirksen. As had been the case with Worcester’s second try, the forwards did the hard work with a series of pick and drives, Duncan Jones halted just a metre out, and when it was recycle, Morgan spotted Dirksen free out wide and sent a cross kick to the corner, the young South African crossing before Morgan converted.
As conditions continued to deteriorate, Worcester opted for the first time to go for the posts from a penalty, Goode extending their lead from the 10m line to bring the 60 minutes up.
Despite good intent, neither side were able to show any control in the final quarter, unforced errors seeing possession being tossed to and fro, but an Ospreys offside on 75 minutes offered their opponents a good opportunity to attack, opting for a scrum eight metres out. However, the Ospreys held firm and won good turnover ball close to their line as players on both sides struggled with their footing. They looked to break from deep with an extra man out wide, but conditions underfoot saw Kahn Fotuali’i slipping, forcing Fussell to kick long.
The final minutes saw the game descend into something of a farce as conditions meant it was all a bit of a lottery, with no extra work for the scorers as it finished 24-14 to Worcester.