George North injury overshadows Ospreys' win over Cardiff
RAINBOW CUP REPORT: The Ospreys began their Rainbow Cup campaign with a bonus-point 36-14 victory over the Cardiff Blues at the Liberty Stadium.
Two tries from Ifan Phillips and further scores from Keiran Williams, Matthew Aubrey, Sam Cross and Sam Parry, along with six points from the boot of Josh Thomas, got the Ospreys off to a winning start.
Cardiff scored two tries of their own courtesy of Max Llewellyn and Ellis Bevan, with Ben Thomas kicking four points.
It was a fantastic win for Ospreys, but there will be a lot of concern for wing George North.
The Wales star was helped off the field in the early stages of the second half after falling awkwardly, injuring his right knee.
The injury will be a big worry for British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland ahead of his squad announcement on May 6.
Phillips opened the scoring for the Ospreys after eight minutes, with the hooker powering over from short range thanks to a well-worked driving line-out.
A sizzling break from left wing Mat Protheroe from inside his own half sparked the hosts into life. But the attack came to nothing as Dan Evans was knocked into touch by Alun Lawrence.
The Ospreys extended their lead after 31 minutes with inside centre Williams touching down. Cardiff second-row Ben Murphy charged down Aubrey’s box kick but wing Jason Harries failed to take the ball, with Protheroe pouncing before putting Williams in.
And the Ospreys took a commanding 19-0 lead into the interval when Morgan Morris reacted quickly to Ben Thomas’ charged down kick, drawing his man to put Aubrey over with Josh Thomas again successful with the conversion.
Ospreys secured their bonus-point try after 48 minutes when Phillips smashed his way over the line from short range for his second score, with the home side’s pack bullying their Welsh rivals.
Cardiff were also reduced to 14 men with tighthead prop Keiron Assiratti sent to the sin-bin for illegally sacking a driving line-out.
It took Cardiff 63 minutes to score their first points of the game and it came courtesy of inside centre Llewellyn, who hit a tremendous line to gallop in unopposed from 35 metres out.
But the Ospreys hit straight back with a period of sustained pressure in Cardiff territory. After going through the phases, a terrific offload from Josh Thomas put Cross over for their fifth try.
To their credit, Cardiff refused to throw in the towel and scored an impressive consolation try as Llewellyn hit another gorgeous angle to put replacement scrum-half Bevan over.
But they ended the game with 14 men as Jason Harries was sent to the sin-bin for another driving line-out infringement, with Parry crossing from short range for the Ospreys’ sixth try.
Tries: Phillips 2, K Williams, Aubrey, Cross, Parry
Cons: J Thomas 3
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Llewellyn, Bevan
Cons: B Thomas 2
Yellow cards: Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff Blues, 46); Jason Harries (Cardiff Blues, 80)
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 George North, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 Mat Protheroe, 10 Josh Thomas, 9 Matthew Aubrey, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 Ethan Roots, 5 Rhys Davies, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Ifan Phillips, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Jordan Lay, 18 Rhys Henry, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22 Joe Hawkins, 23 Cai Evans.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Ben Thomas, 14 Jason Harries, 13 Owen Lane, 12 Max Llewellyn, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 James Ratti, 7 Gwilym Bradley, 6 Alun Lawrence, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Ben Murphy, 3 Keiron Assiratti, 2 Kirby Myhill (captain), 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Rhys Carré, 18 Will Davies-King, 19 Teddy Williams, 20 Olly Robinson, 21 Ellis Bevan, 22 Dan Fish, 23 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.
Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones, Mike English (both Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)