Thursday 19 September 2019

Westerners fall to sucker punch

Ospreys 22 Connacht 17

DOMINANT: Connacht’s Tiernan O’Halloran claims a high ball against Ospreys.
DOMINANT: Connacht’s Tiernan O’Halloran claims a high ball against Ospreys.

Connacht were foiled by a cruel last minute try by Ospreys full-back Dan Evans at the Brewery Field in Bridgend last night.

The was the first League match to take place at the Field since the Celtic Warriors got the better of Cardiff Blues in May 2004, a sporting lifetime ago.

The Ospreys began the game in second in Conference A, three places, but just three points, ahead of their guests.

The more intimate feel of the old-fashioned surrounds seemed to suit the Ospreys, judging by how Tiernan O'Halloran's blocked kick invited pressure and Keelan Giles skipped around O'Halloran for the lead try in the third minute.

Connacht compounded the error when Cian Kelleher carried the ball over his own line to concede a five-metre scrum which allowed out-half Sam Davies to find Giles for his second try.

The tide was turned by Jack Carty's superb kick for a lineout and the out-half follow up with a drop-goal for 10-3 in the 14th minute.

The clever kicking of Davies was preventing Connacht from escaping their half as wing Niyi Adeolokun and O'Halloran were forced to turn in pursuit of the ball.

Nevertheless, the Westerners scrum started to churn out the penalties and free-kicks for Carty to turn down attempts at the posts in favour of going for the corner.

They breached the line without getting the ball to ground and ruined their good work when Bundee Aki crossed in front of Kelleher from the subsequent scrum to leave Connacht trailing by seven at the half.

The visitors were given a boost when home number eight Rob McCusker was binned for a high tackle on Kelleher.

They had to take advantage of the extra man. They couldn't, falling further behind to a try by scrum-half Harri Morgan, Davies conversion making it 17-3 in the 54th minute.

It was a long way back from there.

Connacht camped in the Ospreys 22, Aki eventually crashing over for Carty to convert in the 66th minute.

Flanker Sean O'Brien stepped in for a crucial turnover penalty at the ruck to keep the pressure on.

When Aki was stopped short, captain Jarrad Butler knifed to the line, Carty's kick tying up the game in the 72nd minute.

There was still time for Carty to just miss with a drop goal and Evans to steal it with a try that could have been deemed a knock-on.


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