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Ospreys V Castres - Challenge Cup

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

With the Pro14 on the back burner for a couple of weeks, the Ospreys turned their attention towards Europe and the Challenge Cup, welcoming French Top14 side Castres to the Liberty Stadium on a cold Saturday evening. There was a late change for the Ospreys with Justin Tipuric out with a hip injury, meaning Morgan Morris would start at 7 but play 8. Lydiate would wear 8 and captain the team but play at 7 and Olly Cracknell was called in onto the bench. Centurion Sam Parry starting at hooker, was making his 100th Ospreys appearance.

Castres kicked off but it was the Ospreys who would have the first chance of points when a Castres player was adjudged to be offside, Stephen Myler slotting the kick to make it 3-0 after just 5 minutes. The Ospreys were having the better of the opening quarter and their domination was rewarded with another penalty for a Castres player not rolling away and Myler slotted the kick to make it 6-0 after 12 minutes.

The Ospreys put themselves in all sorts of trouble at the resulting kick off and eventually conceded a penalty that Castres scored to make it 6-3 on 14 minutes.

The Ospreys then continued in the ascendancy and pushed for more scores, eventually paying off with some find handling skills on show from George North, Dan Evans and Will Griffiths who offloaded the scoring pass to Shaun Venter for the game’s first try, 11-3 after 21 minutes. The conversion from Myler was wide so the score remained the same.

In the 27th minute, the Ospreys were awarded a penalty and the Castres winger was shown a yellow card for repeated team infringements. Myler kicked to touch giving the Ospreys an attacking lineout. Sam Parry found his jumper and the Ospreys began to maul their way towards the try line with Kieran Williams adding his weight to the maul. The Ospreys pack powered their way over the line and centurion Parry scored the Ospreys’ second try that Myler converted to add the full 7 points to the score – 18-3.

Castres began to gain ground with some strong forward carrying and were awarded a penalty after Rhys Davies was guilty of coming in at the side but the AR interjected with a “Foul Play” call and the penalty was reversed, allowing Myler to clear to touch. From that lineout the Ospreys mauled their way to another penalty that was again kicked to touch for another attacking lineout. The Ospreys won the ball, but their maul could not get going so Morgan Morris took the ball on before Parry crashed over for his second and Ospreys’ third try of the night, 23-3. Myler converted with the final kick of the half and the half time score was 25-3.

The Ospreys continued their good start into the second half, but it would be Castres who began to increase their tempo and intensity and won a succession of penalties that took them right in to the Ospreys’ 22. The last penalty was tapped, eventually the Ospreys defence was breached and Castres scored to make it 25-8. The conversion was successful, and it was now 25-10 after 54 minutes. The Ospreys went to their bench with Fia, Morris and Ashley making way for Botha, Beard and Cracknell.

Castres continued the pressure but the Ospreys defence stood firm in the face of several strong Castres carries and they were rewarded when they forced a knock on and Myler to clear from the resulting scrum. The kick, however, did not find touch and Castres counter-attacked but the Ospreys defence was resolute and again they were able to clear. The Ospreys were under immense pressure and would require a huge last quarter of the match to withstand the Castres comeback. Nicky Smith and Matthew Aubrey came on for Gareth Thomas and Shaun Venter respectively

In the 65th minute and under penalty advantage, the Ospreys began to play some rugby wide out. Protheroe ran hard at the line before passing to North before the ball came back to Protheroe in midfield. He passed to Lydiate who passed on to Griffiths who offloaded superbly to Evans who flew down the line for a terrific Ospreys score, 30-10. Myler slotted the conversion to make it 32-10 after 66 minutes. This was the bonus point guaranteed for the Ospreys.

Despite being well behind on the scoreboard, Castres continued to attack in waves and they were rewarded with a fine try after their substitute kicked through for the winger to dive on the ball and carry it over the line for their second try of the match after 69 minutes, 32-15 but the conversion was wide. Scott Williams was now on for the ever hard running Williams.

It would be the Ospreys who would finish the game the stronger when Luke Morgan, on for the excellent Protheroe, latched on to Myler’s little poke kick behind the defence and scored the last try of the game. Myler converted with the game’s last kick to make the final score 39-15.

This was a strong showing from the Ospreys who did well to put away a much changed Castres team who did their part in making this an entertaining game. Everyone from 1-23 from the Ospreys put in a really strong shift and Dan Lydiate was awarded Player of the Match but the rest of the squad all deserve honourable mentions. Next up next week is a trip to Worcester and the Ospreys will be buoyed by the result and the performance from tonight. Well done Ospreys.

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