Anscombe boots Ospreys to victory over Cardiff
URC REPORT: The Ospreys beat Cardiff 18-14 in Swansea to make it two wins from two in this season’s United Rugby Championship.
Wales flyhalf Gareth Anscombe kicked all of the home side’s points in only his second competitive game back from a two-year injury lay-off.
Josh Adams and Owen Lane scored tries for Cardiff, while Rhys Priestland kicked four points.
Anscombe gave the hosts an early lead with a tremendous penalty from the halfway line.
The Ospreys pack held the upper hand, but they would have been wary of a dangerous Cardiff backline.
Anscombe doubled the home side’s lead with another three points after Seb Davies was penalised for an early tackle.
Cardiff finally got in the Ospreys’ half, winning a penalty in the process. Priestland lined up to take the shot at goal, with the kick hitting one of the posts.
What should have been dealt with comfortably by the hosts turned into a disaster as Owen Watkin hesitated and Wales wing Josh Adams pounced to score on his first appearance since the British and Irish Lions tour.
The Ospreys responded by turning the screw up front, with their maul and scrum putting their visitors under pressure.
Scrumhalf Tomos Williams then tackled Luke Morgan without wrapping his arms and was punished with 10 minutes in the sin-bin.
The Ospreys were also temporarily reduced to 14 men, with Michael Collins sent to the bin for a deliberate slap down just when Hallam Amos had worked an overlap. Anscombe kicked yet another penalty after Cardiff crumbled at the scrum.
The last 90 seconds of the first half were extremely hectic as Anscombe intercepted just outside his 22 and chipped ahead. Owen Lane covered, but instead of taking the safe option and kicking the ball dead, Amos decided to run it as he galloped up the touchline.
But a promising move came to an end with tighthead prop Tomas Francis winning a penalty at the breakdown, meaning the hosts turned around with a 12-7 lead.
Cardiff came out of the blocks firing in the second half with some strong carries deep in the Ospreys’ 22.
After a period of sustained pressure, some lovely handling from Williams and Rhys Carre allowed Lane to touch down at the far right-hand corner, with Priestland converting from the touchline.
However, the Ospreys retook the lead almost immediately through Anscombe’s boot. The former Cardiff man then extended the hosts’ lead soon after, and Cardiff failed to find a way back into the game.
Pens: Anscombe 6
Tries: Adams, Lane
Cons: Priestland 2
Ospreys: 15 Max Nagy, 14 Mat Protheroe, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Rhys Webb (captain), 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Will Griffiths, 5 Rhys Davies, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Ethan Roots, 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22 Josh Thomas, 23 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler.
Cardiff: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 James Ratti, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Rhys Carré.
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Ben Thomas, 23 Matthew Morgan.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Ben Breakspear (Wales), Jason Morris (Wales),
TMO: AJ Jacobs (South Africa)