Ruthless Williams has the final say
Leinster 30 Ospreys 31:Leinster’s quest for an historic double was left in tatters by Shane Williams this afternoon after the winger, playing in his last competitive game, ran in two tries at the RDS to help Ospreys to the Pro 12 title.
The former Wales international still knows where the line is and proved as much by diving into one corner to drag his side back into the game before burrowing over in the other to bring them within a point and leave young Dan Biggar a nerve-wracking conversion attempt for the win.
The 22-year-old outhalf was outstanding throughout, however, and kept his composure on the right touchline to put Ospreys in the lead with 90 seconds to go.
Leinster fought back furiously, as they had done from every Ospreys score of the afternoon, but they fell short when seeking position for the drop goal and a visiting boot sent the ball to touch and dropped the European Cup winners to their knees in front of their home crowd.
Joe Schmidt’s men had led 17-9 at half-time thanks to tries from Seán Cronin and Isa Nacewa, and another from the Fijian international gave them a 30-21 advantage. The defeat is a bitter pill, as it is their third straight loss in a league decider, the Ospreys repeating their 2010 victory in Dublin.
Steve Tandy’s side had beaten the Heineken Cup champions twice during the regular season and they nipped ahead thanks to a ninth-minute penalty from Biggar.
Leinster were level within two minutes though, Jonathan Sexton delivering a crisp penalty strike to reward the carrying of Gordon D’Arcy and Mike Ross.
Prop Ross injured his left leg at a subsequent scrum — a concern ahead of Ireland’s summer tour to New Zealand — and Kiwi Nathan White had to be introduced.
Leinster had the better of the possession in a fiercely contested first quarter, but pressure from the visitors’ blitz defence forced a turnover and Andrew Bishop broke downfield. He linked with Rhys Webb who was hauled down in sight of the posts as Leinster scrambled back, with the Ospreys having to settle for a Biggar three-pointer.
The Ospreys struggled to use their scrum as a weapon and the Irish province charged back into scoring range, retaining possession through seven phases. That set up an opportunity on the left for Brian O’Driscoll to brilliantly draw in two defenders and set hooker Cronin free for a rampaging run to the line.
Sexton converted with aplomb, a quality kick which was matched by the in-form Biggar as he topped off a powerful scrum with his third successful penalty. However, Sexton’s pinpoint restart kick was fielded superbly by a leaping Nacewa and the winger burst through for an opportunist try. That defensive lapse was further punished by Sexton adding the extras from wide out, although the Ospreys quickly got back on the front foot.