Ospreys grounded without Alun-Wyn
SCARLETS will go into their PRO12 semifinal against Leinster in Dublin on the back of a record derby wins over arch-rivals the Ospreys thanks to five fine tries.
The Ospreys will head to Munster to meet the league leaders after rubber-stamping fourth place with a performance that promised much at the start, but then fell apart in much the same way as they have done in recent weeks.
This was their fifth defeat in the last six games and they desperately need the inspirational Alun Wyn Jones to be fit for their trip to Thomond Park. With him they might have a chance of reaching the final.
Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy said: “It’s never nice to get a dusting from your local rivals and now nobody will give us a chance to win in Munster other than ourselves.
“We’ve got two weeks to get things right.
“We are missing a lot of firepower, but we have to be proud of reaching the semi-finals after 22 rounds, especially from where we were last season. Now we have to dust ourselves off and go to Munster.”
The Opsreys hit the front right from the kick-off when the home forwards held back Rhys Webb as he attempted to spoil his opposite number Gareth Davies’ kick out of his 22 at a ruck. Dan Biggar kicked the simple penalty, as did Rhys Patchell for the Scarlets five minutes later when Webb pushed Jonathan Davies off the ball.
The Ospreys’ bright start continued when Biggar, who later limped out of the game with a right ankle injury, passed back inside to the tracking Keelan Giles after quick ball from a ruck 10 metres out from the home line and the right wing scored half-way out on the left.
Biggar converted and the Ospreys must have felt they had paved the way to finish third.
But Patchell punished two more indiscretions by the visitors with his boot before Webb picked up a yellow card for a neck high tackle on Ken Owens in the 27th minute. By the time the Ospreys skipper, and New Zealand bound British and Irish Lions scrum half, returned, the game had a completely different complexion.
A Johnny McNicholl try may have been ruled out after the TMO spotted a knock-on at a breakdown earlier in the movement, but two tries flowed in the 10 minutes Webb was away.
The outstanding Will
Boyde crossed in the right corner after Davies, Owens and Samson Lee had been thwarted on the other side of the pitch and then Steff Evans rounded after a lightening break from Gareth Davies to send the home side into the break 23-10 to the good.
The third quarter had little of the explosive qualities of the first two, but the Scarlets lit up the game again with their third try on the hour. They turned a speculative kick down field to their 22 by the Ospreys into a scorching try at the posts by Aaron Shingler.
McNicholl and Jonathan Davies added two more in the space of three minutes to add an extra bit of lustre before Dan Baker grabbed a consolation try at the death for the Ospreys.
“We wanted a game full of intensity before the semi-finals so this was ideal – great preparation for Leinster,” said Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac.
“The fans were telling me before the game that reaching the semi-finals was one thing, but that beating the Ospreys was vital.”
Pace and power: Scarlets Will Boyd bursts past Tom Habberfield to score a try