Leinster's unbeaten run continues
PRO14 REPORT: There was Gnoll way through for the Ospreys in Neath on Friday as Leinster remained at the very top of Conference A with a record-breaking start of 12 wins from 12 after their 21-13 victory.
The home side kept within touching distance of the table-toppers right up until the final ten, with a Cian Kelleher try on 75 minutes finally putting the game to bed to overcome the stubborn resistance.
The first chance to get on the scoreboard went to the hosts, Luke Price’s attempt using a strong wind to carry the ball all the way from the halfway, only to be denied by the post on seven minutes.
It took until 18 minutes for the deadlock to be broken as Leinster played the conditions excellently, putting the ball quickly through the hands to exploit the overlap, putting replacement inside centre Tommy O’Brien over on the right-hand side.
Young flyhalf Ciaran Frawley added an extra two for the visitors to see Leinster out to a seven-point lead midway through the first half.
Ten minutes later it was the Ospreys who looked certain to go over, with Kieran Williams making a break down the wing only to be denied just metres short.
Despite playing into the conditions it was Leinster who went into the ascendency for a period but couldn’t quite add the finishing touches.
On 39 minutes Price had another chance to get on the board, this time making no mistake. The points didn’t stop there though, with a Leinster fumble being picked up moments later by speedster Luke Morgan, who fired in under the posts. Price again obliged with the extras and suddenly Ospreys were heading into half-time 10-7 to the good.
The second half started with Leinster putting instant pressure on, pinning Ospreys in their 22. A series of scrums followed, with Leinster dominating the set-piece as they had for most of the duration.
After a number of resets Ospreys were lucky not to have a man in the bin, eventually conceding to a hefty drive from Leinster No.6 Josh Murphy. Frawley had no trouble splitting the sticks from straight in-front as Leinster regained the lead, 14-10 on 49 minutes.
Ospreys began to play the conditions as it was their turn to face the wind, and got the chance to cut the gap on 59 minutes, Price cutting the deficit to a single point as the hosts clawed back, 14-13 to the visitors.
Leinster continued their dominance, bashing away at the Ospreys line, but it took until the 75th minute for Kelleher to cross the whitewash. With replacement flyhalf Harry Byrne successfully converting the try, the visitors ensured a 21-13 victory away from home, on a windy night at The Gnoll.
Play of the day
The play of the day was an absolute cannon unleashed by Ospreys’ Cai Evans early on, who after just two minutes fired the ball from the halfway perfectly into touch, five metres from the Leinster line. A telling moment in the role the wind would play in this fixture.
Man of the Match
Leinster owed a lot of dominance to their set-piece, where they outplayed the Ospreys, winning all 12 of their scrums.
It was hardly surprising for loosehead Peter Dooley to pick up man of the match with a cornerstone display in the scrum and an energetic performance around the park.
Pens: Price 2
Tries: O’Brien, Murphy, Kelleher
Cons: Frawley 2, Byrne
Yellow card: Sam Parry (Ospreys, 73)
Ospreys: 15 Cai Evans, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Kieran Williams, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Luke Price, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Olly Cracknell, 6 Dan Lydiate (captain), 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Simon Gardiner, 2 Scott Otten, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Gheorghe Gajion, 19 Lloyd Ashley, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 23 James Hook.
Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Jimmy O’Brien, 12 Conor O’Brien, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ciarán Frawley, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Rhys Ruddock, 7 Scott Penny, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Scott Fardy (captain), 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Bent, 2 James Tracy, 1 Peter Dooley.
Replacements: 16 Seán Cronin, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Jack Dunne, 20 Ryan Baird, 21 Rowan Osborne, 22 Harry Byrne, 23 Tommy O’Brien.
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Aled Evans (Wales), Ben Breakspear (Wales)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)