Ospreys claim vital play-off spot
PRO14 REPORT: Sam Davies slotted a late penalty as the Ospreys secured a narrow 26-23 win over Cardiff Blues in the battle for bragging rights and fourth in Conference A of the PRO14.
The Blues started quickly, Gareth Anscombe scoring a fine try and amassing 18 points overall for the Blues against his future employers.
But Cory Allen burst over for the Ospreys before the break and Nicky Smith shortly after it to put them in control.
Yellow cards for Allen and Dan Evans hurts the Ospreys in the second half though, while Josh Turnbull went over for the Blues.
But in the battle of the kickers in the final quarter, it was Davies who held his nerve after dragging a drop goal attempt wide and the Ospreys had secured their Champions Cup play-off spot ahead of their rivals.
After such a dramatic opening game of Judgement Day VII, the Blues and the Ospreys did not disappoint in repeating the excitement.
Sam Davies had kicked the Welsh region into an early lead before the game’s first try arrived and it was a stunner.
Owen Lane made the initial break from a lineout strike move, Lloyd Williams was in support on the inside but when Anscombe received the scrum-half pass he still had a lot to do, but the Welsh international jinked his way over for a fine score.
The full-back then added the extras and a penalty for an early 10-3 lead but that was soon trimmed by Sam Davies’ second kick of the day from the tee.
The Blues lost the dangerous Lane to injury and the Ospreys were growing in confidence.
James King carried hard from a scrum to go close and when the ball was recycled it was Allen who charged over under the posts for their first try.
Sam Davies could not miss the extras and the men in black were in front for the first time at 13-10. Anscombe levelled things up again before Davies’ third penalty of the day sent the Ospreys into the sheds with a 16-13 lead.
It got even better soon after the break for the Ospreys, Nicky Smith barging over from close range and Davies converting to open up a ten-point lead.
But back came the Blues after Allen saw yellow for a deliberate knock on, Josh Turnbull collecting a loose ball from a scrappy lineout and powering over from short range.
Anscombe was flawless again with the conversion and it was all to play for heading into the final quarter as the Ospreys led 23-20.
Tomos Williams thought he had put the Blues ahead again but his score was ruled out by the TMO for a Nick Williams obstruction in the build-up.
Anscombe’s immaculate kicking continued and as we approached the final ten minutes it was level again at 23-23.
As it stood, a draw gave the Ospreys fourth ahead of the Blues and when Dan Evans saw yellow for another deliberate knock on, Anscombe picked a bad time to miss his first kick of the day.
Sam Davies was then off target with a drop goal, but when the Blues failed to roll away the flyhalf nervelessly slotted a late penalty to seal the win.
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Anscombe, Turnbull
Cons: Anscombe 2
Pens: Anscombe 3
Tries: Allen, Smith
Cons: Davies 2
Pens: Davies 4
Yellow cards: Allen (Ospreys, 46), Evans (Ospreys, 69)
Cardiff Blues: 15 Gareth Anscombe; 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Aled Summerhill; 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams; 8 Nick Williams (captain), 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ethan Lewis, 1 Rhys Gill,
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 George Earle, 20 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Garyn Smith, 23 Jason Harries
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans; 14 George North, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Hanno Dirksen; 10 Sam Davies, 9 Aled Davies; 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith,
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Dan Lydiate, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Luke Price, 23 Keelan Giles
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Craig Evans (Wales), Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)