Ospreys down Scarlets in thrilling derby
PRO14 MATCH REPORT: Luke Morgan grabbed the only try of a pulsating derby at the Liberty Stadium as the Ospreys ended Scarlets’ ten-game winning streak against Welsh regions in the PRO14.
Morgan demonstrated his prodigious pace to dot down midway through the second half, while the boot of Sam Davies kept the scoreboard ticking over in a 19-12 triumph.
The first half had been a battle of the kickers, with Rhys Patchell giving the Scarlets a 9-6 advantage at the break but Ospreys hit back in the second half to maintain their impressive home form – having lost just one of their last 13 games at the Liberty Stadium in all competitions.
The visitors battered away with 15 consecutive phases deep in the home 22 at the death – needing just a converted try to snatch a draw – but the hosts held firm and won a penalty to deservedly secure the bragging rights.
Scarlets’ only away win, in any competition, this season was against Southern Kings in October and their gameplan appeared to be to keep things tight – often opting to kick clear through fly-half Hadleigh Parkes or Patchell at No.15 rather than running the ball from deep as they have become famous for.
That led to a first half that became a kicking contest as Patchell’s early opening gambit, after Samson Lee got the better of Gareth Thomas in the scrum, was quickly cancelled out by a mammoth 45-metre penalty from Davies.
The kickers then traded penalties once more to move the score to 6-6 after 15 minutes – Ospreys taking advantage of James Davies being caught off his feet – before Patchell erred as he pushed another kickable infringement wide of the posts from the tee.
But the Scarlets full-back did give the visitors a 9-6 lead at half-time by slotting a 25th-minute scrum penalty.
Sam Davies missed a chance to level the scores early in the second half as his penalty attempt slid just wide of the right upright before the Scarlets introduced flying winger Steff Evans into the game for a limping Patchell on 50 minutes.
A determined defensive stand on their own try-line from the visitors looked to have denied Ospreys a score but, just minutes later, Morgan pounced when a Davies pass went loose – booting ahead and outpacing Tom Prydie to dive on the ball in the in-goal area.
Davies’ conversion gave the hosts a 13-9 advantage with 20 minutes remaining and he extended that to 16-9 by nailing a drop goal shortly after – his second of the season.
The flyhalf had clearly found his range as he banged another drop goal between the posts on 66 minutes to put the hosts two scores ahead, although Dan Jones brought the deficit back to just seven points with a 72nd-minute penalty.
Fifteen phases in the Ospreys 22 at the death gave Scarlets the opportunity to nick a draw but the hosts held on to end a four-game losing streak in the fixture.
Drop Goals: Davies 2
Pens: Davies 2
Pens: Patchell 2, Jones
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 George North, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Luke Morgan, 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 Gareth Thomas
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Rowan Jenkins, 18 Alex Jeffries, 19 Lloyd Ashley, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 James Hook, 23 Keelan Giles
Scarlets: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Kieron Fonotia, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Hadleigh Parkes, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Will Boyde, 7 James Davies, 6 Ed Kennedy, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (captain), 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 Dan Davis, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Steff Evans
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Tom Spurrier (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) December 22, 2018
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