Ospreys too good for Cardiff in Welsh derby
MATCH REPORT: The Ospreys pulled clear in the second half to earn a 22-6 victory over Cardiff in their Welsh derby at the Arms Park.
Cardiff had led 3-0 at the end of a low-scoring opening period in the capital, with Rhys Priestland’s 27th-minute penalty the only points either side managed to get on the board.
However, the Ospreys broke clear after the break, with Dewi Lake, Rhys Webb and Sam Parry all going over for a win that leaves them nine points behind Welsh Shield leaders the Scarlets ahead of next weekend’s west Wales derby in Swansea.
Another Priestland penalty was all the hosts could muster in the second half as they slipped 11 points adrift of their visitors.
The Ospreys controlled the opening exchanges as their runners crashed into the home defenders but were unable to find a way through.
Lake had a try ruled out for obstruction in the build-up following a visit to the TMO, but things took a turn for the worse for Cardiff when they lost wing Owen Lane to a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on.
It seemed inevitable the Ospreys would take full advantage of their extra man, yet by the time Lane returned 10 minutes later no damage had been done.
The Ospreys created a chance for Keelan Giles by kicking into the space that should have been occupied by Lane, but he was unable to pick up cleanly and another opportunity went begging.
It took almost half an hour for the first score to arrive. The Ospreys came in at the side of a ruck 30 metres out from their posts and Priestland made no mistake from the kicking tee.
The visitors sprung back into offensive action with a clean break in the home 22 by Wales flanker Jac Morgan but failed to make it pay.
Michael Collins looked to have finally got the Ospreys on the board in the last play of the half, but the TMO once again ruled out any score, deciding he had been held up before being able to touch down.
Priestland and opposite number Gareth Anscombe traded penalties at the start of the second half before latter – a former Cardiff man himself – kicked a penalty to the corner and Lake trundled over from the line-out for the game’s first try.
Webb extended the lead when he ran 60 metres to the posts five minutes later after intercepting a Priestland pass. He also added the conversion.
The scrumhalf was denied another two minutes later, but the Ospreys still stretched their advantage in the 66th minute when replacement hooker Parry drove over.
Player of the match
Ospreys skipper Webb picked up one try and almost got another.
More importantly, he kept his side on the front foot and kept the energy in his team high.
The control he exerted with half-back partner Anscombe was key to the win.
Play of the match
The Ospreys were generally the better team with the ball, more direct and adventurous, and when Cardiff tried to open out in the second half they found themselves being picked off.
Priestland threw a long pass, Webb read it perfectly and then raced to the posts for a try he also converted to put clear daylight between the two sides.
Pens: Priestland 2
Tries: Lake, Webb, Parry
Cons: Anscombe 2
Cardiff: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Max Llewellyn, 11 Theo Cabango, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 James Ratti, 7 Josh Navidi (captain), 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Rhys Carré.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 James Botham, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Matthew Morgan.
Ospreys: 15 Max Nagy, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Rhys Webb (captain), 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Will Griffiths, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Dewi Lake, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Rhys Davies, 20 Ethan Roots, 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Mat Protheroe.
Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales), Jason Bessant (Wales)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)
* Source: @URCOfficial