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 for the second week, after beating French Top14 side Castres at the Liberty Stadium on a cold Saturday evening last week. The Ospreys travelled up the motorway to Sixways, home of the Worcester Warriors who made 14 changes to the side that lost last week to Pau.
The Ospreys kicked off and were first on the scoreboard when Stephen Myler slotted the game’s first penalty to make it 0-3 to the Ospreys after just 3 minutes. It was the Ospreys who would score next with another Myler kicked penalty on 11 minutes to lead 0-6.
Worcester then began to get their offloading game going and breached the Ospreys defence under penalty advantage to score the game’s first try, which was converted on 18 minutes to bring the score to 7-6. It was Worcester who were now really beginning to offload out of the tackle, and they scored their second try after some poor Ospreys tackling let the Warriors in. The try was unconverted, and Worcester now led 12-6 with 28 minutes on the clock.
The Ospreys kicked off and won a quick penalty after a Worcester player went off his feet. Myler kicked to touch and the Ospreys had an attacking lineout. Adam Beard caught the throw, and the Ospreys began a driving maul and forced their way inexorably towards the try line with the backs joining in, only for a Worcester player to drag the maul down. The referee had no hesitation in running under the posts to award a penalty try and he showed the Worcester No3 a yellow card. The Ospreys now led 12-13 after 33 minutes.
With the man advantage, the Ospreys won a penalty at the next scrum that Myler kicked to touch to set up another attacking lineout. This time Rhys Davies took the ball down and set up a driving maul and again, the backs joined in before Sam Parry dived over the line from a yard out for the Ospreys’ second try that Myler was unable to convert but the Ospreys now led 12-18. That was the last action of the first half which was a good half for the Ospreys.
The second hard started much like the first with the Ospreys in the early ascendancy and they came close to scoring again but their driving maul came up just short and the Ospreys were forced to turn the ball over for a Worcester scrum. Nicky Smith and Tom Botha came on for Gareth Thomas and Ma’afu Fia and Ifan Phillips was on for Sam Parry.
However, despite the Ospreys’ early pressure, it was Worcester who would score the second half’s first points when they kicked a penalty goal to make it 15-18 after 48 minutes. Then Worcester burst into action again as they scored a try straight off the training ground from a lineout, despite the hints of two forward passes and the conversion was good, ensuring Worcester now led 22-18 after 52 minutes. Worcester had another chance with a penalty, but it was just wide on 54 minutes. Mathew Protheroe made way for Shaun Venter
Things went from bad to a whole lot worse for the Ospreys when Adam Beard made a hash of the ball at the lineout and the Worcester player pinched the ball and drove over the line for Worcester’s third try which was converted to increase the score to 29-18 on 58 minutes. 17 unanswered points for Worcester in a 20-minute spell. Olly Cracknell and Morgan Morris were now on for Will Griffiths and Dan Lydiate, respectively.
The Ospreys kicked off and when they got the ball back after an exchange of kicks, George North went on a mazy run and set up a ruck just inside the Worcester 22. Before Ruben Morgan-Williams could play the ball, a Worcester prop handled the ball in the ruck and was instantly penalised and shown a yellow card. The penalty was kicked to touch but the chance went begging as the ball was overthrown.
However, it would be the Ospreys who scored next after they a penalty that Myler kicked to touch, and the Ospreys tried another driving maul, but Morgan-Williams pulled the ball out and darted for the line. He was the victim of a high tackle and the referee gave the advantage, meaning a free play for the Ospreys. The forwards drove the ball on before the impressive Morris was driven over the line by Tipuric, Beard, and Cracknell and he somehow wriggled his way down to the line to score a fine try that Myler converted to reduce the Worcester lead to just 4 points at 29-25 on 68 minutes.
Morris then won a penalty that Myler kicked to touch. In another ‘off the training ground move’ the Ospreys went off the top to the rampaging North who beat three defenders before dotting the ball down over the line for a great individual try that Myler was able to convert and the Ospreys now led 29-32 on 74 minutes. This was the Ospreys’ bonus point try.
Worcester kicked off and this time instead of returning the kick the Ospreys ran the ball back through Dan Evans before Morgan-Williams sent up a high hanging box-kick. Worcester tried to keep the ball but again Morris was over the ball and won another turnover penalty. Myler sent the kick between the posts to increase the Ospreys’ lead to six points at 29-35 on 77 minutes.
The same thing happened again from the resulting kick off and again Morris was over the ball to win a penalty and the Ospreys celebrated as Myler slotted the kick to give them a virtually unassailable eight point lead with just a minute left on the clock – 29-38.
Worcester kicked off for the last time in the match and won the ball back after a Tipuric knock on. The scrum was reset as the clock ticked over the full 80 minutes but there was still time to play the scrum. Worcester threw everything at the Ospreys line and almost scored but the referee awarded the Ospreys a penalty as Worcester went off their feet. Myler tapped the ball and gleefully kicked the ball dead, hearing the final whistle at the same time.
Final Score 29-38.
This was a great all-around performance from the Ospreys who recovered from a devastating 17 point burst from Worcester, but they forced their way back into the game after great work from everyone in the entire match day twenty-three. Their second bonus point win in two weeks has seen the Ospreys go top of the Challenge Cup table after two rounds. Great win Ospreys. Keep it going.