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Ospreys V Leinster Match report!

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

After the disappointing loss away at Zebre, last week, it was the Pro14 Champions Leinster next up at the Liberty on Sunday afternoon. Both teams had their best players away with their respective International teams, but Leinster have a strength in depth that is the envy of all of the Pro14 teams and would be a particularly tough nut to crack.

Essentially this was a free hit, almost a hiding to nothing, as most people would expect a Leinster win but then again, stranger things have happened.

A minute’s silence and the laying of wreaths to commemorate Armistice Day/Remembrance Sunday came before the action started.

The Ospreys kicked off allowing Leinster to go through a few phases before clearing their lines. Gareth Evans ran the ball back before Scott Williams put through a grubber kick for Mat Protheroe to chase. The Leinster winger tried to run the ball back but Protheroe tackled him into touch giving Ospreys the first lineout which they duly lost, allowing Leinster a simple exit from their 22. As the visitors played their way out of trouble, solid Ospreys defence forced a knock on and the first scrum of the game.

As it so often does, the first scrum was reset and at the second time of asking, the Ospreys scrum was dominant and won a penalty that Cai Evans kicked deep in the Leinster 22. Fortunately, Adam Beard collected the ball and set up a driving maul that headed for the try line. Leinster defenders struggled to cope and their 7 pulled the maul down a metre from the line causing the referee to award a penalty try and yellow card the Leinster flanker. After 7 minutes the Ospreys led 7-0. This was an incredibly good start from the Ospreys and the question on most people’s lips was if they could maintain this?

Sadly, Leinster began to play like the champions they are, and Ospreys began to miss too many first up tackles and their discipline slipped giving Leinster silly penalties. Two of these in quick succession put Leinster into the Ospreys 22 and from the second line out, Leinster scored after the maul hit the floor. Leinster quickly recycled the ball, and their hooker scored a close range try after being driven over by two of his back-row forwards. The conversion was successful and after 19 minutes the score was 7-7.

The next try also came from another Ospreys error. There was an overthrow at an attacking Ospreys lineout and Leinster pounced on the loose ball. Some slick passing through the hands sliced open the Ospreys defence and the Leinster winger scored in the corner; the conversion was good, and Leinster now led 7-14 after 27 minutes. Leinster then missed with a kickable penalty but from the resulting 22m drop out, Leinster were able to create a four on one overlap and the Leinster openside flanker scored their third try. The conversion was wide, but the lead was now 7-19 after 34 minutes.

Neither side troubled the scorers for the rest of the half and the sides went into the break.

The Ospreys made two front row changes at the break with Rhodri Jones and Dewi Lake coming off for Gareth Thomas and Ifan Phillips, respectively. The Ospreys started the second half much like they did in the first and were rewarded with a kickable penalty in the 44th minute but Cai Evans’ kick sailed wide and Leinster were able to exit again. A speculative chip ahead was almost taken by Protheroe, but he knocked the ball just as he was re-gathering the ball and Leinster were again able to clear.

Ospreys then made further changes with Tom Botha on for Fia and Shaun Venter on for the busy Ruben Morgan-Williams. Leinster won a penalty after a somewhat questionable high tackle by Scott Williams and they kicked to touch. From the lineout, Leinster went through several phases until Adam Beard won a fine turnover, but the referee had other ideas and penalised Botha for not rolling away even though he was standing up at the time. Unusually, Leinster took a tap and attacked the Ospreys line and their forwards drove over the line for their fourth try, the conversion was successful, and the score now read 7-26 after 57 minutes.

With the game now in the bag, Leinster took their foot off the gas somewhat and the Ospreys began to find another foothold in the match. The Ospreys threw everything they had at Leinster in the final quarter of the match but despite their best efforts, the Leinster defence was able to hold them at bay. Hanno Dirksen came on for the injured Josh Thomas and that forced a backline re-shuffle with C Evans going to 10 and Protheroe to fullback. Cracknell came on for the industrious Will Griffiths with Callum Carson on for Joe Hawkins.

Everything the Ospreys tried was resolutely defended by the Leinster defence although Protheroe did make a great last gasp break but lost his footing with only the final defender in front of him. The game finished with a Leinster penalty that was tapped and kicked to touch.

The Ospreys started really well and deservedly took the lead, but Leinster showed their class and strength in depth to come back and beat a young Ospreys team that battled to the end.

Final score Ospreys 7 – Leinster 26.

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