Ospreys claim Boxing Day spoils in Welsh derby
MATCH REPORT: The Ospreys recorded a bonus-point United Rugby Championship victory over 14-man Scarlets after Argentina flank Tomas Lezana was red-carded in the fourth minute of the West Wales derby in Swansea.
Referee Craig Evans found himself at the centre of two decisions that changed the complexion of the game, with the Scarlets playing with 14 men for 76 minutes.
The Scarlets saw Lezana red-carded for a head-on-head tackle on Ospreys lock Rhys Davies in the fourth minute.
But the Scarlets would have been frustrated when Ospreys flyhalf Owen Williams was only shown a yellow card for a similar head-on-head tackle on his opposite number Sam Costelow midway through the first half.
The home side were still made to work for the win with the extra man, with Wales and Lions wing Alex Cuthbert, wing Luke Morgan, captain Rhys Webb, replacement hooker Sam Parry and centre Keiran Williams all crossing for tries.
The Ospreys’ win was only their second of this season’s URC campaign but the expected avalanche of points for having an extra man never came.
Wing Cuthbert crossed for the game’s first try after a driving line-out close to the Scarlets line, touching down over in the corner from short range.
The home side soon had their second try after a dominant scrum in the shadow of the visitors’ posts and wing Morgan slid in at the corner after a miss pass by Williams.
The flyhalf added the conversion to make it 12-0 to the Ospreys before Williams was shown a yellow card for his head-on-head tackle on Costelow.
The Scarlets took full advantage with both sides down to 14 men when lock Sione Kalamafoni hit a good angle after a period of pressure to score for the visitors.
Scrumhalf Webb replied almost straight away when he ran in from 25 metres, shaking off tackles by Rhys Patchell and Johnny McNicholl to cross near the posts. With fly-half Williams sin-binned, Webb converted his own try to make it 19-7 at half-time.
Kalamafoni looked to have crossed for his second try straight after the break but he was held up after an impressive charge from the back of a scrum.
The Scarlets did cross for the try when Webb’s pass was intercepted by full-back McNicholl and he raced on from the halfway line to haul his side back to within five points.
The Ospreys replied with a Williams penalty and tries by replacement hooker Parry and centre Williams to secure the bonus-point win.
Player of the Match
Ospreys openside flank Jac Morgan produced another stellar and all-action performance in the number seven jersey. He was everywhere and is already making himself impossible to leave out of the Ospreys or Wales starting line-up.
Play of the Match
Webb’s solo try saw the Wales and Lions scrum-half race in from 25 metres and leave two defenders flat-footed before shaking off two tacklers to cross for the Ospreys’ third try, which he proceeded to convert, to make it 19-7 to the home side at half-time.
Tries: Cuthbert, Morgan, Webb, Parry, Williams
Cons: Williams 2, Webb
Tries: Kalamafoni, McNicholl
Cons: Patchell 2
Red card: Tomás Lezana (Scarlets, 4)
Yellow card: Owen Williams (Ospreys, 28)
Ospreys: 15 Max Nagy, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 Jac Morgan, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Rhys Davies, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Ethan Roots, 21 Reuben Morgan Williams, 22 Jack Walsh, 23 Joe Hawkins.
Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Steff Evans, 13 Ioan Nicholas, 12 Jonathan Davies (captain), 11 Ryan Conbeer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Kemsley Mathias.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Steff Thomas, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Tom Price, 20 Tomás Lezana, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Scott Williams.
Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: Rhys Jones (Wales) and Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)