Ospreys grab bonus-point win over Connacht at the death

Connacht had worked themselves back into the game after poor first half

Ultan Dillane of Connacht gets his pass away as Keelan Giles of Ospreys closes in for the tackle in the Guinness Pro 14 game at  Morganstone Brewery Field in  Bridgend. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Inpho

Ultan Dillane of Connacht gets his pass away as Keelan Giles of Ospreys closes in for the tackle in the Guinness Pro 14 game at Morganstone Brewery Field in Bridgend. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Inpho

 

Ospreys 22 Connacht 17

In a dramatic finish, Ospreys gabbed a bonus-point victory at the death to deny Connacht in Friday night’s Guinness Pro14 fixture at Bridgend.

Connacht, with 10 changes from last week’s Challenge Cup side, had fought back in the second half to draw level with minutes to play, but Ospreys’ Corey Allen made a vital break upfield and fullback Dan Evans was awarded the try after a check with the TMO.

It had been an out-of-sorts display from Connacht with too many mistakes, yet they showed incredible self belief to grab the momentum in the second half and come back from 17-3 down to draw level after a poor first half.

Ospreys, playing in Morganstone Brewery Field and missing their Welsh internationals, were on the scoreboard within two minutes. That was thanks to a try from left wing Keelan Giles after the home side blocked down Tiernan O’Halloran’s attempted clearance inside the Connacht half, quickly spread the ball wide with the 21-year-old winger finishing after some slick backline handling.

The home side continued to control possession and were rewarded when Giles grabbed a second try– this time outhalf Sam Davis provided the clever chip behind the defence and Giles raced down the wing to claim possession and dot down.

Davis missed both touchline conversions before Connacht got a foothold in the contest with Jack Carty opting for three points from a drop goal after 12 minutes. However, they were unable to capitalise on a penalty to touch minutes later when the home side successfully held up a driving maul just short of the line despite the added weight of some Connacht backs.

Before the break a huge defensive effort from the Ospreys prevented Tom Farrell touching down after Connacht’s most sustained period of play. A dominant scrum and two penalties paved the way to a series of attacks on the Ospreys’ line, but Connacht were unable to capitalise with some big hits from the home side’s backrow led by Rob McCusker and Ollie Cracknell.

Although the home side, was reduced to 14 men after a high tackle on Cian Kelleher, Connacht struggled to capitalise and it was the Ospreys side that went further in front. Corey Allen cut inside the cover before providing scrumhalf Harri Morgan with a dream debut as he raced in from 10 metres to bag a third try, which Davis converted for a 17-3 lead.

Eventually Connacht gained some momentum, a series of penalties provided a territorial control before Quinn Roux claimed the lineout and the pack piled forward with Bundee Aki touching down . When Carty converted, it brought Andy Friend’s side within seven points after what had been a disappointing display.

Two minutes later, with their tails up, captain Jarrad Butler provided real hope to Connacht when he crashed over from a maul, and Carty’s super conversion from near the touchline put the sides level. In the end, however, Connacht had to content themselves with a bonus point.

OSPREYS: D Evans; H Dirksen, C Allen, T Thomas-Wheeler, K Giles; S Davies, H Morgan; R Jones, S Otten, T Botha; L Ashley, J King; D Lydiate, O Cracknell, R McCusker.

Replacements: J Ratti for McCusker (37-40 mins) & for Ashley (69), S Baldwin for Otten (63), T Williams for Giles (69), G Thomas for Jones (72), A Jeffries for Botha (72). Not used: G Volpi, M Aubrey, J Hook.

Sin Bin: McCusker (46).

CONNACHT: T O’Halloran; N Adeolokun, T Farrell, B Aki, C Kelleher; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, T McCartney, F Bealham,; U Dillane, Q Roux; S O’Brien, J Butler, P Boyle.

Replacements: Faingaa for Boyle (11 mins), C Blade for Marmion (50), Godwin for Adeolokun (55), Delahunt for McCartney (57), Carey for Bealham (67), Cannon for Roux (69), O’Donnell for Buckley (80). Not used: C Fitzgerald.

Referee: Mike Adamson (SRFU).

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