Updated: Apr 2, 2021
Before the game, I made a comment on the Forum about this match. I said that there did not seem to be too much in this Blues Squad, and I predicted a comfortable Ospreys win but I caveated that by saying it was the Ospreys and we would probably get hammered. The following is my match report of the actual game as it unfolded….
The Ospreys seemed to set the tone for the match at the very first scrum inside three minutes. Rhodri Jones lifts and drives back Arhip as the Blues’ scrum retreats and gives away a penalty. A minute later, another penalty is awarded to the Ospreys and Myler kicks for goal. 0-3 to Ospreys after 5 minutes.
Ospreys have possession and go through some phases without making too much ground before a kicking battle ensues and Dan Evans clears to touch. From the resulting lineout, the Ospreys backs are offside, and Tovey kicks the penalty to make it 3-3 after 13 minutes.
On 15 minutes, Ospreys win a series of penalties and the second of them is a successful shot at goal, giving Ospreys a 3-6 lead. From the restart, the Blues win back the ball and go through several phases only for a last-ditch Gareth Evans tackle to prevent a Blues try but the Blues retain the ball as the forwards take the ball on. Eventually Harries scores all too easily in the corner with the Ospreys defence nowhere to be seen for the Blues first try. Tovey slots the conversion and after 20 minutes the Blues lead 10-6. We have seen nothing from the Ospreys in an attacking sense in this first quarter.
An Ospreys clearing kick makes touch giving the Blues a lineout which goes off the top and out to the backs who seem to be going nowhere when Harries kicks the ball deep into the Ospreys’ 22. From yards behind three Ospreys players, Adams comes flying in and easily wins the race for the ball to score in the corner for the Blues’ second try. Tovey converts and Blues lead 17-6 on 30 minutes. That was a particularly poor effort from the Ospreys backs who were guilty of ball watching and biting in on dummy runners.
Minutes later and the Blues are on the attack again only for Scott Otten to win a penalty at the breakdown which Myler kicks to touch. The ball is off the top, behind a few dummy runners and into the hands of Luke Morgan (touching the ball for the first time in the match) who breaks into the Blues half. A speculative kick ahead from Cross lands with an Ospreys bounce and Tipuric is there to claim the ball for the Ospreys who put the ball through the hands. This allows Dan Evans time and space to run in untouched for the Ospreys first try. Myler converts and on 35 minutes it is now 17-13.
Then follows a series of reset scrums before Gareth Evans takes the ball out of a retreating Ospreys scrum before Webb knocks on and there ends the first, very inauspicious half. 17-13
The Blues kick off and Ospreys win the ball, but Webb knocks on for the third time in the match. The Blues win a penalty after the scrum for holding on and Tovey kicks it to touch to set up a driving maul. Alun Wyn Jones is harshly penalised for bringing down the maul as the ref does not see the Blues prop knock AWJ over which causes the collapse. Tovey kicks the simple penalty and it is 20-13 after 44 minutes.
Ospreys have the ball and go through a few phases without making any yards as there is no urgency, flair, or deception so Webb resorts to another box kick which is knocked on and Ospreys have a scrum. This time, the Blues have the ascendancy and win their first scrum penalty. This is kicked to touch, and the Blues move the ball through the hands before Otten makes a good tackle, only for Tipuric to be penalised. Under advantage, the Blues move the ball again, but the Ospreys show a decent drift defence and manage to keep them out. There is no advantage, so Tovey kicks another simple penalty and the Blues lead 23-13 on 50 minutes.
1/4/8 & 12 depart for the Ospreys with Morris, Smith, Beard and K Williams on. Beard is immediately caught offside, and Blues have another penalty to set up a driving maul. This maul drives on and on for some 20 metres before Otten is penalised for being offside at the ruck. That is a first black mark for Otten who has been one of the Ospreys better players but that is his last play as Lake comes on to replace him after Tovey kicks another penalty to increase the Blues lead to 26-13 on 54 minutes. Ospreys are on a team warning after too many penalties.
AWJ loses the ball in contact but wins a penalty which Myler kicks to touch. Again, the Ospreys are going nowhere through three phases before Lake drops a dolly of a ball and knocks on.
On 58 minutes, a Blues lineout is sent into a midfield runner and there is a big collision as Cracknell hits Navidi. The Ospreys player is pinned under Navidi and is also held in by another Blues player, but the referee is unimpressed and yellow cards Cracknell to the bin for a 10-minute break. Tovey kicks the penalty to touch and the Blues are looking dangerous every time they are in the Ospreys half forcing Myler into a try saving tackle. The Blues remain on the attack and Owen Watkin shows great skill, class, and superb defensive skills to stop another certain Blues try allowing the Ospreys to clear to touch. Nicky Thomas is on for the Ospreys.
The Blues attack again, and Lake misses a tackle putting the Blues on the front foot. They move the ball quickly before Dan Evans is drawn and beaten by a pass as Adam runs in untouched for the Blues try. But wait! The TMO is asked to look at a potential knock on in the build up and luckily for the Ospreys, sees the knock on and disallows the try. There was no way back for the Ospreys if the try had been given.
The ineffective Webb and the pedestrian Myler are replaced by Morgan-Williams and Protheroe who makes his Ospreys debut in a position he has not played for several years. Suddenly, there is a little bit of pace injected in the Ospreys game, but a potential overlap is ignored, forcing Cross to kick. However, his kick is charged down deep into the Ospreys half. The Blues replacement scrum half catches the ball and could be in for a try but Protheroe makes a great last-ditch tackle and forces a knock on.
Still with only 7 players in their pack, the Ospreys win another penalty at a scrum and Protheroe kicks to touch, just! AWJ takes the ball off the top and the Ospreys go through yet more phases but lose the ball and Harries strides away. Morgan makes a lovely cover tackle, but Evans is penalised at the resulting break down and Tovey kicks a simple goal to extend the Blues’ lead to 29-13 on 72 minutes.
Beard makes a nice break after a fine inside pass from Lake puts him clear. He offloads to Morgan-Williams who goes from the Ospreys 22 into the Blues half. Tips is there to retain possession and Morris beats another three Blues players to set up a ruck. Eventually, Protheroe pops the ball to Beard who promptly drops the ball.
The Ospreys then win a late penalty with Protheroe going for broke with his kick but he is a few metres short giving the ball to the Blues but somehow the ball ends up back in the Ospreys hands and they truck it up again and again and win another penalty as time expires. This time, Morgan-Williams takes a quick tap and breaks, making decent yards. Lake and Tipuric each take the ball on before Tipuric offloads to AWJ who passes basketball style to the supporting Morgan and he races away for the second and somewhat consolatory Ospreys try. Protheroe converts easily and the final whistle blows. Full time score Blues 29 – 20 Ospreys. Tovey is the Man of the Match with 19 points.
It was very much a case of too little too late and very few players will have done anything to enhance their reputations or impress the watching Wales coaches. In the end it was just as I said and the Ospreys fell to another defeat in what has been an awful, disaster of a season.