After a win in Round 1 and a bad defeat in Round 2, the Ospreys made the short trip up the M4 to Newport to face the Dragons in Round 3 of the Rainbow Cup. The Ospreys made several changes to their match day 23 as did the Dragons.
The match kicked off in sunshine and good conditions and the Dragons took advantage of some pretty poor defending by the Ospreys as their winger ran in for the first try. This led to a simple conversion and after 3 minutes, the Dragons led 7-0.
The Ospreys worked their way into the match and won a free kick at a scrum when the Dragons pack went early into the hit. The Ospreys called for another scrum and this time they won a penalty as they drove their opponents backwards. Up stepped Luke Price and he slotted the kick to make the score 7-3 after 11 minutes.
One of the law trials in the Rainbow Cup is the ‘Captain’s Challenge’ and this was employed by Justin Tipuric in the 17th minute after a high tackle from the Dragons’ flanker. This took play from the Ospreys 22 back into the Dragons’ half for an Ospreys penalty, but nothing came from the attacking lineout.,
The Dragons were then reduced to 14 men on 21 minutes, when their hooker saw yellow for a tip tackle and minutes later the Ospreys made their extra man count when Ruben Morgan-Williams delayed his pass to Dewi Cross. This allowed the Ospreys’ winger to race through the dog-legged defence and go under the posts for the Ospreys’ first try. The Dragons captain used his ‘Captain’s Challenge’ to check for a forward pass but there was no conclusive evidence, and the try was awarded. The try was converted by Price and after 25 minutes, the Ospreys led 7-10.
Another scrum penalty saw Price kick to touch again and although the Ospreys could not get their driving maul going, they retained possession and when Tipuric latched onto Morgan Morris, they drove over the line for a try. Price added the extras and after 31 minutes the Ospreys led 7-17.
The resulting Dragons kick off went straight into touch, so the referee brought play back to the halfway line where the Ospreys pack destroyed the Dragons scrum and won another penalty. Tipuric called for a shot at goal and Price obliged with a fine kick to take the score to 7-20 after 35 minutes.
The Ospreys should have been able to see out the half, but the Dragons won a free kick at a scrum and they went through the hands before their winger scored his second try of the match. The conversion was the last action of the half and the score was now 14-20.
The second half kicked off and the Ospreys won a penalty almost straight away as Alun-Wyn Jones won a turnover. Price stepped up again to slot the kick and the Ospreys increased their lead to 14-23 after just one second half minute.
The Dragons kicked off and won back the ball, putting the Ospreys defence under pressure. Sam Parry made a good tackle but rashly played the ball on the floor. The referee awarded the Dragons a penalty and showed Parry a yellow card to reduce the Ospreys to 14 for ten minutes. The Dragons took a tap from the penalty and their No8 powered over from a metre for a try that was also converted and after 44 minutes, the score was now 21-23.
It was then the Ospreys turn to profit from a kick-off as a Dragons knock-on gave them back possession. Morgan-Williams grabbed the loose ball and seemed to evade the entire Dragons defence before scoring in the corner for the Ospreys’ third try. Price was unsuccessful with the conversion and after 46 minutes the Ospreys now led 21-28.
The Ospreys began to then use their bench as Nicky Smith came on for the hard-working Gareth Thomas and minutes later, a triple change was made when Roots, Parry and Watkin were replaced by Griffiths, Gleave, and Hawkins, followed minutes later with Bradley Davies replaced by Rhys Davies. The substitutes made a good impact and a short pass to Dan Evans saw the fullback race away over the line for the Ospreys’ fourth try of the match. This try was converted by Price and after 62 minutes, the Ospreys led 21-35.
Ospreys winger Luke Morgan was replaced by Max Nagy on 64 minutes after suffering what looked like a dislocated finger. The Dragons did not give up and after a fine break they won a penalty and after a quick tap, scored a try that went unconverted and after 73 minutes, the Ospreys led 26-35.
The Ospreys then ended the game in fine fashion when a clever pass put Nagy through a gap, and he ran in for the final try of the game on 79 minutes. Price added the conversion with the last kick of the match.
Not the Ospreys’ finest performance but a solid win over difficult opponents. There were some positives from the match – the scrum went very well, and the Ospreys scored five tries but there were also some negatives – some poor defending for the Dragons’ tries, some poor attacking play and a lack of cohesion between the backs. The win is the most important and this was achieved by the Ospreys, without them ever being in really trouble in the match.
Final Score Dragons 26 Ospreys 42