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Monday Morning Quarterback View - Not the Italian Job!

In another 6 Nations break week, the Ospreys welcome Italian side Benetton to Swansea for a key URC clash. The Ospreys were boosted by the released from Wales Kieran Williams and Rhys Davies and the returning from injury Sam Parry and Dan Lydiate. Iestyn Hopkins made his starting debut for the Ospreys. The Italian side were also boosted by the return of four of their Italian internationals. I

The game kicked off and immediately the Ospreys were on the attack and won an early penalty. After several phases, the Ospreys won another penalty that Myler kicked to the corner. From the lineout, the Ospreys went wide and a nice pass from Hopkins gave Luke Morgan a simple run in for the opening unconverted try and after 6 minutes the Ospreys led 5-0.

Benetton thought they had scored a try after some poor Ospreys defence but the TMO intervened and disallowed the try for a forward pass.

Benetton did score a try when, following a hacked kick through the Ospreys’ defence, a Benetton player was first to the loose ball and he offloaded to his support player for the converted try 5-7 after 22 minutes.

Ospreys then won a penalty which Myler slotted between the posts to make it 8-5 after 25 minutes.

The Ospreys were struggling at the breakdown and at the lineout and when Benetton won a penalty, they went for a successful shot at goal and led 8-10 after 32 minutes.

Another Benetton penalty for jumping across the lineout led to another successful shot at goal and after 38 minutes, Benetton led 8-13.

The Ospreys had another chance to score just before half time, but captain Nicky Smith was held up over the line and the chance had gone.

The second half started with the Ospreys on attack again but they were turned over just 5 metres from the Benetton try line.

Benetton then extended their lead with another penalty goal after 46 minutes – 8-16 and minutes later, Harri Deaves was shown a yellow card putting the Ospreys down to 14 for ten minutes.

A slice of luck following a juggled pass allowed Benetton to break and their winger scored in the corner for their second try of the game. This try was unconverted and Benetton led 8-21 after 52 minutes.

The Ospreys began to create chances but excitement and a lack of cool thinking under pressure failed to convert any of these chances into points.

Coach Booth turned to his bench, and they had an immediate impact as the intensity and speed of game improved dramatically for the Ospreys. After a great kick chase from Deaves and Luke Morgan, the Ospreys won a penalty on the Benetton 5 metre line. The Ospreys went to the corner and Parry powered over behind the maul for the try. Walsh converted and it was now 15-21 after 74 minutes.

As time ticked towards the 80, the Ospreys threw everything at Benetton and came close to scoring. Under penalty advantage, Walsh put in a cross-field kick and Ruben Morgan-Williams was first to the ball to dot down for the try. The crowd held their breath as Walsh lined up the difficult conversion knowing that if he were successful, the Ospreys would win. The kick looked good until the final second when it hit the post and the final whistle blew.

The Ospreys did not play particularly well apart from the first 5 minutes and the last 10 minutes and that is not enough to win games at this level. They turned the ball over 35 times during the game. Questions need to be asked as to why the Ospreys did not go for the scrum when given the penalty advantage that led to the cross-field kick. Cool heads and calm thoughts were needed but under significant pressure, it failed to materialise, and the game was gone.

Next up for the Ospreys is the Welsh derby against the Dragons at home, which is the final home game of the season. This game should see the return of the Welsh internationals and could well be used as a selection match for the Saracens game a week later.

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