Ospreys grounded with­out Alun-Wyn

The Rugby Paper - - Guinness Pro12 - ■ By ROB COLE

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.”

PIC­TURE: Huw Evans Agency

Pace and power: Scar­lets Will Boyd bursts past Tom Hab­ber­field to score a try

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