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Rainbow Cup - Ospreys v Cardiff Rugby

With the Pro14 finished for the season, and being out of Europe, the Ospreys turned their attention to the Rainbow Cup and the match against Cardiff Rugby on Saturday April 24th at the Liberty Stadium with a 5.15pm kick off.

The match kicked off in glorious sunshine and the Ospreys won the first penalty when a Cardiff player was adjudged to be off his feet at the breakdown. Josh Thomas sent the kick deep into the Cardiff 22 to give the Ospreys an attacking lineout. Ifan Phillips found Adam Beard and the pack set up a driving maul. The Ospreys drove towards the line before Phillips powered over from a metre to score the match’s opening try. The conversion was wide and after 7 minutes the Ospreys led 5-0.

Having much of the possession and territory in the opening quarter, the Ospreys were full of running intent with Mat Protheroe looking dangerous in possession, but the final key pass evaded the Ospreys. The Ospreys were on top at the scrum and won several penalties despite giving away two early free kicks at the set-piece.

Cardiff did have a couple of chances to trouble the scoreboard when their centre made a fine break, but resolute Ospreys defence denied the opportunity. There were a lot of kicks from 22 to 22 as neither side fancied the counter-attack but after another scrum reset, the Ospreys won a free kick that was taken quickly by Matthew Aubrey. He went to kick the ball over the Cardiff defence but was partially charged down, significantly altering the flight and bounce of the ball. The last Cardiff defender was completely bamboozled by the bounce, allowing Protheroe to scoop up the ball and offload to Kieran Williams. He raced away to score the Ospreys’ second try of the match. Thomas was on target with the conversion and after 31 minutes, the Ospreys led 12-0.

The Ospreys won another penalty at a scrum, causing the referee to warn the Cardiff tight head. Thomas went for touch but missed and Cardiff were able to clear their lines. However, the Ospreys won another scrum penalty, and this time Thomas made no mistake with his kick. The lineout went off the top and into midfield. A Thomas kick was again partially charged down and again the Ospreys were able to benefit as Morgan Morris gathered the ball and passed to Aubrey who had the simple task of running in for the Ospreys’ third try. Thomas was again successful with the conversion and that was the final play of the first half. Ospreys led 19-0 at half-time.

Cardiff kicked off the second half and the Ospreys cleared to touch. From the lineout, Cardiff attacked,

and were playing under penalty advantage, but they made enough territory for the referee to call that advantage was over. The Ospreys defended solidly and won a penalty that Thomas kicked to touch.

From the lineout, the Ospreys went through the hands allowing Owen Watkin to break down the touchline but his inside pass to Protheroe was spilled, giving Cardiff a scrum. In that passage of play, George North went down injured and was replaced with Cai Evans. At the scrum, the Ospreys pack surged forward and the referee blew for another penalty and showed the Cardiff prop a yellow card.

Thomas kicked for touch again and the Ospreys had another 5m lineout, where they set up a maul and powered towards the line. Phillips drove over the line and after a quick TMO check, the referee awarded the try. Unfortunately, the conversion hit the post and after 24 minutes, the Ospreys led 24-0 and had secured the bonus point.

The Ospreys then began to use their bench with Smith, Phillips, Botha, and Morris being replaced by Ley, Parry, Henry and Cross. Minutes later, Williams and Beard were replaced by Hawkins and B Davies, respectively. The substitutions disrupted the Ospreys and Cardiff were able to break and their centre finished off a well worked try, that was also converted and after 62 minutes the Ospreys led 24-7.

The Ospreys then won another penalty and captain Tipuric called for a scrum. Debut making Ethan Roots picked up from the base of the scrum and surged powerfully forward before passing to Aubrey who in turn offloaded to Cross for the Ospreys’ fifth try of the match. Thomas added the extras and the Ospreys now led 31-7 on 68 minutes. That was Aubrey’s last action as he was replaced by Morgan-Williams.

The Ospreys won another scrum penalty that Thomas sent into touch but from the lineout the Ospreys were penalised in midfield. Cardiff took a quick tap from the penalty and caught out the Ospreys defence, allowing their winger to score their second try of the match. This was also converted, and the Ospreys led 31-14 after 73 minutes.

The Ospreys finished the game much like they had started it and won a succession of penalties near the Cardiff line, with the referee showing the Cardiff winger a yellow card for stopping a certain try. Again, Thomas sent the resulting kick into touch for yet another lineout as the clock ticked over the 80-minute mark. The Ospreys set up another driving maul that Parry guided to and over the line to score the final try of the game. Cardiff did ask for a Captain’s Challenge, new to the Rainbow Cup, but the TMO and the referee saw no reason to disallow the try and awarded it again. Thomas was unsuccessful with the conversion and the final whistle blew.

A much stronger Ospreys team had seen off a dogged but inexperienced Cardiff side and Protheroe was awarded the Player of the Match by the TV commentator. This was a clinical performance from the Ospreys and coach Booth would have been pleased by his team’s efforts.

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