Updated: Apr 2, 2021
The Ospreys were forced to play their Boxing Day home fixture at Parc Y Scarlets due to the relaying of the Liberty Stadium pitch. Even though they were the real away side, the Ospreys were classed as the home team for the benefit of the fixture.
The Scarlets kicked off and were quickly into their attacking play after a turnover at the first Ospreys lineout, an occurrence that would happen all too often during the first half, and they won a penalty when the Ospreys were penalised for offside. The Scarlets turning down three easy points, instead kicking to touch, set up a driving maul that the Ospreys were able to defend. Captain Fantastic, Justin Tipuric, counter-rucked at the breakdown and forced a Scarlets knock on and Morgan-Williams box-kicked from the base of the newly formed ruck. The Scarlets were now in possession again and attacked down their right-hand wing only for Luke Morgan to intercept a try-scoring pass and then won a penalty as the Scarlets went off their feet. Myler kicked the penalty to touch for an Ospreys lineout but again their lineout skills were poor, and they turned the ball over before giving away a penalty at the next breakdown. Again, the Scarlets turned down a shot at the posts and went for touch instead, but the kick failed to find its mark and went touch and goal, so the referee awarded the Ospreys a scrum. This scrum led to another Ospreys penalty that was dispatched to touch but again the lineout curse reared its ugly head and the Scarlets won back the ball and cleared to touch. This time the Ospreys were fortunate to be awarded a penalty that Myler sent between the posts for the game’s opening score. After 14 minutes and against the run of play, the Ospreys led 3-0.
A succession of penalties after the restart led to an attacking Ospreys lineout but again, they could not retain the ball and the Scarlets won another turnover and a scrum. From the scrum, the Scarlets looked to attack but Tipuric was on hand again to force a turnover and the Ospreys had turned defence into attack. Morgan-Williams saw a Scarlets prop in front of him as he cleared the ball from the ruck, and he threw a clever dummy before racing away to the try line for the first try of the match. The conversion was missed but after 22 minutes the Ospreys led 8-0.
The Scarlets won a quick penalty at the resulting kick off and a shot at goal was taken and was successful meaning the lead was now just 5 points at 8-3. The Scarlets then won a couple of quick penalties and found themselves deep in the Ospreys half and another shot at goal was called, but this time the ball hit the post and the Ospreys were able to clear.
Another Ospreys lineout was faulty giving the Scarlets a scrum and they were unlucky not to score when their cross-field kick bounced into touch just ahead of their winger. Had he caught the ball he would have scored an easy try, but the bounce went the Ospreys way, and the chance went.
The Ospreys then turned the ball over for the seventh time at the lineout with the Scarlets going on to win a penalty but the shot at goal was unsuccessful and the half time whistle went. This was not a great first half of rugby as the wind seemed to play havoc with the high ball and both sides had high error counts.
The second half started with the Ospreys winning a penalty in a kickable position and Myler stepped up to slot it and increase the Ospreys’ lead to 11-3. In a back and forth game it would be the Scarlets who scored next when they kicked a penalty to make it 11-6 after 50 minutes. At this point, the Ospreys changed 2, 3 and 9 with Philips, Fia and Webb coming on for Lake, Botha, and Morgan-Williams, respectively. This injected some pace into the Ospreys, and they won another penalty that Myler slotted to make it 14-6 after 53 minutes.
Next to score were the Scarlets with another kicked penalty goal after they had battered away at the Ospreys defence but each time they were kept out. The score now read 14-9 as the match entered the final quarter.
The Ospreys then went on the attack and won good metres with a driving maul but somehow, Scott Williams completely whiffed on the pull back pass and their best scoring opportunity of the second half went as the ball went loose. The Scarlets hacked the ball up the pitch and could have scored but for the quick thinking and fast feet of Morgan who go back to win the ball and then a penalty as the Scarlets went off their feet at the resulting breakdown.
The Scarlets then won a lineout, and they went wide before breaking the Ospreys’ line. An offload that was seemingly clearly forward was missed by everyone except the Scarlets fullback who raced away under the posts for the game’s second try. Somewhat surprisingly the TMO did not look at the pass and the conversion was successful giving the Scarlets their first lead of the game on 72 minutes.
The Scarlets then managed to keep hold of the ball for the remaining minutes and they won a penalty in the 79th minute when an Ospreys player was adjudged to be offside. The Scarlets kicked the ball to touch and the final whistle blew. This was a game that the Ospreys had led for much of, but the error count and basic skill errors cost them dearly as the Scarlets came back to snatch an unlikely for 72plus minutes victory.
These local derbies are usually low on skill, high on passion and errors and this game was no different. Neither team wanted to lose but it was the Scarlets with the bragging rights to end 2020.
Next up for the Ospreys in 2021 is a tough away derby at the Blues.