A stunning second half fightback from a young Ospreys team at Sixways ensured they headed home from Worcester with a losing bonus point.
- Worcester take their chances in the opening exchanges to lead 21-0 at the break
- Allen scores an early second half try to kick start the recovery, with McCusker scoring his first Ospreys try before Allen added his second and the team’s third
- The hosts grabbed two penalties after the break to keep their noses in front
- Ospreys ended with a 9-10-12 combination with an average age of just 18-years old
The Ospreys secured a losing bonus point on the road after an enthralling contest at Sixways on Saturday afternoon.
Trailing by 21 points at the break after a sluggish opening, a vastly improved second half showing saw them run in three tries, Cory Allen with a brace and Rob McCusker with his first in Ospreys colours. The point leaves them second in the pool on six points, three behind Worcester on nine.
After a low-key opening it was the home team who struck first, Jamie Shillcock with the opening score of afternoon 12 minutes in.
There seemed little danger when Matthew Aubrey, inside his 22, put the ball out inside the Worcester half, but a quickly taken throw had the Ospreys on the back foot. Good scramble defence saw Tom Howe stopped in the corner, on the left, the Ospreys winning turnover ball, but on this occasion the clearance stayed in field. Back came the hosts, working an overlap on the left, and it was a simple finish for the Worcester outside half, who picked himself up to add the extras.
Worcester doubled their lead just five minutes later, Matti Williams doing well at the back of a scrum on halfway that was in trouble, picking up and marauding upfield to inside the 22 where he offloaded to Wynand Olivier. The home skipper went under the posts to score, Shillcock with the easiest of conversions.
The Ospreys needed to get a foothold in the contest and, although they were able to dominate the next 20 minutes, in both possession and territory, they were unable to make it count and, one rolling maul that was illegally halted aside, rarely looked like finding a way through.
They were left to rue their lack of penetration when, two minutes from half-time, McCusker was penalised at a ruck inside the Worcester half, allowing the home team to go upfield where, eventually, Jack Singleton was able to peel of the back of a rolling maul to score try number three, Shillcock again adding the two.
HALF-TIME: WORCESTER WARRIORS 21-0 OSPREYS
It was imperative that the Ospreys made a strong start to the second half if they were to get anything from the game, and they helped themselves to their first try minutes after the restart.
A lineout on the left provided the platform from which to attack, Aubrey put a well-weighted dink behind the defence and it was Allen who read the bounce to score, Hook with the conversion.
Back came Worcester, themselves looking to use the lineout as an attacking platform, spreading it wide to their left where they had an overlap which they failed to take advantage of, Dean Hammond stopped in the corner by a combination of Hanno Dirksen and Cai Evans.
Both teams began to ring the changes, but momentum definitely swung back the other way and with pressure building it came as no surprise when the Ospreys scored their second to move back into bonus point territory.
With the teenage halfback pairing of Evans and Harri Morgan now pulling the strings, both making their European debuts, it was the 32-year old number eight McCusker who crashed over from close range for his first Ospreys try on his 25th appearance.
Evans slotted the conversion for his first ever points for the senior Ospreys team and the scoreboard read 21-14 with a quarter of the game remaining.
It was Worcester who scored next, their nervousness at how the second half was unfolding seeing them going for the posts for the first time when awarded a penalty 40m out for an offence on the floor. Shillcock duly slotted the three pointer to take his team 10 clear.
Both team probed, looking to find the crucial next score, young Ospreys Keelan Giles, Guido Volpi and Evans, doing some great defensive work, before the Ospreys scored try number three with just five minutes to play, setting up a grandstand finale.
Worcester were looking to work something on halfway, the Ospreys defence flying up in their faces, and it was Allen who read Ben Teo’s pass perfectly, picking it up in midfield and outsprinting the cover defence to score in the corner.
Evans nailed a difficult kick to make it a three-point game.
It was delicately poised but a scrum penalty on the Ospreys 10m line handed Worcester a shot at goal with 90 seconds on the clock, Shillcock making no mistake to make the game secure.
Next for the Ospreys is Friday night’s Guinness PRO14 clash with Connacht at Morganstone Brewery Field. Get your tickets now for £10 at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets