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Monday Morning Quarterback View

When the Ospreys saw their Autumn fixtures in this year’s URC, they would have quickly realised that they would be travelling to South Africa devoid of any of their Welsh Internationals. That situation was exacerbated with Rhys Davies being called into the Wales squad and not being used for anything other than holding a tackle bag and players not in the matchday squad not being released back to the region. A total of sixteen players were called up by Wales, decimating the Ospreys first team. Despite the claims of a certain Mr Gatland, the Ospreys’ squad only has 8 NWQ players but several of these could go onto become Welsh qualified in the future.

The game did not start well for the Ospreys when starting LH prop, Garyn Phillips, went off for a HIA but fortunately he returned to the action several minutes later. The Bulls opened the scoring when our defence was outflanked, and the Bulls’ winger scored a try in the corner. The Bulls then scored their second try when the Bull’s flanker drove through a despairing tackle for the game’s second try. Another try was added soon after and it looked like the Ospreys were in for a long, hard afternoon but a nice passage of play from K Williams put J Walsh over for the Ospreys’ first try that Walsh also converted.

The Bulls were straight back on the attack and should have scored after some poor Ospreys defence, but Walsh was able to hold up the Bulls player and save a certain try. However, the Bulls would not be denied for long when, after a comedy of errors at a ruck, the Bulls’ winger raced away for his second and the bonus point try for the Bulls. The young Ospreys could easily have folded but the young guns started to play a bit, and this was rewarded after some good pick and drives from the pack. Walsh dabbed the ball in behind the Bulls’ defence and Thomas-Wheeler gathered and dotted down for the score, that Walsh also converted. That should have been it for the first half scoring but after some poor attempts at defence, the Bulls were able to score their fifth try right on the buzzer. Half time score 31-14.

The Bulls started the second half on the offensive again, but their hooker was held up over the line by Morris, saving another try. A lovely break from Giles should have been converted into a try but what was a certain deliberate knock on was somehow adjudged by the ref to have gone backwards and much to the watching Ospreys fans annoyance, the TMO did not come in to award what should have been a penalty try and a Bulls yellow card. That was one of several peculiar calls from the referee that went against the Ospreys.

The Ospreys were growing into the game and after a couple of penalties, scored after a strong, determined run by K Williams. The Bulls should have been on a yellow card warning for repeated infringements, but the ref seemingly forgot. The Bulls worked their way up the pitch and scored again to make it 38-19 with ten minutes left to play. Could the Ospreys somehow find another score to gain a valuable try BP?

With the ref finally noticing that the Bulls scrum was pushing early the Ospreys were able to secure another penalty that Walsh kicked to the corner. A great carry from Parry maintained possession for the Ospreys and Henry crashed over from 70 cm (doubtless it was 70 metres later in the bar) for the bonus point try for the Ospreys that was truly well deserved. The Bulls scored the last try of the match and won 43-26.

The Bulls were almost always going to win this match and did not need the help of referee who gave it any way, but this young Ospreys squad can hold their heads up high knowing that they were able to score the 4 tries needed for the bonus point. Now the Autumn internationals are over, there is a chance that some of the Team Wales players will be able to fly out to SA and bolster the Ospreys for their visit to the Cell C Sharks next Friday.

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