Updated: Apr 2, 2021
The Ospreys travelled to Ireland for their last game of the Pro14 season to face the best side in the Pro14 – Leinster. On the back of three defeats in a row that threatened to blow the Champion’s Cup qualification for next season, the Ospreys knew that an unlikely win would guarantee that spot. Not many people gave the Ospreys a chance, but the Ospreys turned up to play anyway. How would they do? Read on……
The Ospreys kicked off and began to tear straight into their opponents. As the phase count grew, so did the territory but the Ospreys just lacked that one key break, or one pass to break down a strong and well organised Leinster defence.
The Ospreys looked like they really fancied this game, but every single attack was repelled time after time as the Leinster defence refused to be broken. The Ospreys were not helped when Kieran Williams limped off on 7 minutes and was replaced by Joe Hawkins.
The Ospreys did get the ball over the line, but the ball had grazed the try line in the process and the result was a Leinster line out that allowed them to clear their lines. Then Leinster seemed to realise that they were, in fact, in a match and decided to play some decent rugby. As they went through the phases, the Ospreys were penalised several times and the referee lost his patience by showing Ma’afu Fia a yellow card on 19 minutes. Then the Ospreys paid the price as quick hands from the scrum saw Leinster over for the game’s first try which was also converted and on 22 minutes, Leinster led 7-0.
Following a few phases after the kick-off, the Ospreys won a penalty, and a shot was called. Luke Price duly stepped up and, although he slipped as he kicked, he still managed to split the posts and gain the Ospreys 3 points. 7-3 after 25 minutes.
Then calamity struck the Ospreys. The ball was not taken from the Leinster kick off and their centre grabbed the ball and raced away over the line for the game’s second try. The conversion was wide and after 27 minutes, Leinster now led 12-3. There were no further scores and the half ended.
Leinster kicked off the second half and quickly won back possession. After a few phases, their prop made a little break near the Ospreys line and he was able to offload to the Leinster outside half who crashed over for his second and Leinster’s third try of the game. This try was converted and after 43 minutes, Leinster now led 19-3. Would there be any way back for the Ospreys?
In a bold move, the Ospreys brought on all five of their forward reserves – Garyn Phillips, Dewi Lake, Tom Botha, Sam Cross and Olly Cracknell on for Henry, Parry, Fia, Griffiths and G Evans. Could this be the spark the Ospreys needed? The players seemed to think so and things began to change after a Leinster yellow card for a high tackle. The Ospreys made the most of the extra man and after several close quarter pick and drives, Leinster ran out of defenders, allowing Cracknell the simple task of diving over the line for the Ospreys first try of the match. Josh Thomas, who had come on alongside Shaun Venter and replaced Luke Price and Cai Evans, slotted the conversion to make the score 19-10 after 69 minutes.
The Ospreys would score again after a Leinster mistake. The Ospreys had kicked the ball into the Leinster half and as their fullback dived on the ball, Morgan Morris arrived and turned the ball over. Before the Leinster defence had time to react and set itself, Owen Watkin crashed over for the Ospreys second try that Thomas converted and on 73 minutes the score was now 19-17.
The Ospreys were now in the ascendancy and it was Leinster’s turn to make another error. A long Thomas kick sailed into the Leinster 22 and the Leinster outside half set himself for the return kick. However, he had not factored in Thomas and as he kicked the Ospreys man charged the ball down, grabbed the loose ball and dived gleefully over the line for the third Ospreys try that he also converted. Unbelievably, the Ospreys had come back from a 16-point deficit at the home of the best team in the Pro14 and now they led 19-24 with just minutes to play.
Leinster threw everything at the Ospreys in the closing minutes, but the Ospreys were determined not to concede again and in the 79th minute, Lake won a decisive turnover penalty at the breakdown. Thomas kicked for touch, the Ospreys won the ball at the lineout and happily kicked it out of play for the referee to blow the final whistle.
Against all the odds, the Ospreys had won and in doing so, secured their place in the Champion’s Cup for next season. The final quarter from the Ospreys was absolutely fantastic and I am rather delighted with the win. Massive congratulations to Toby Booth and the Ospreys players who have turned the season around from the horrors of last season. Man of the Match – Morgan Morris.
Final Score Leinster 19 24 Ospreys.