Lions bounce back to upset Ospreys in Swansea
MATCH REPORT: The Lions got their URC tour off to a winning start when they edged the Ospreys 28-27 in a thriller in Swansea on Saturday.
It’s a morale-boosting win for Ivan van Rooyen’s side after they started the new season with a 15-31 defeat at home to the Bulls last weekend.
The Welsh side seemed in control for most of the clash and outscored their opponents by four tries to three but the resilient Lions hung in to claim the win.
Edwill van der Merwe’s 72nd-minute try, with Gianni Lombard adding the extras, proved key as Ospreys saw flyhalf Jack Walsh miss a late penalty that would have seen them snatch the win.
Francke Horn and Sanele Nohamba also crossed for the South African side with Lombard kicking three penalties and two conversions.
Keelan Giles scored two tries for Ospreys while Dewi Lake and Rhys Webb were also on the scoresheet, with Walsh adding a penalty and two conversions.
The visitors had the chance to take second-minute lead when Alun Wyn Jones was penalised for a dangerous challenge, but Lombard was off-target with the resulting penalty.
Lombard had another opportunity four minutes later as Ospreys conceded a scrum penalty and this time he made no mistake.
Ospreys responded with the first try of the game when a flowing move ended with Luke Morgan sending Giles over in the corner.
Giles soon had a second after some creative play from Walsh had given the wing his opportunity to race away.
However, Lions remained in contention when No.8 Horn finished off a driving line-out, with a conversion from Lombard leaving his side trailing 10-14 at the end of a competitive first quarter.
The home side became increasingly dominant, though, and it came as no surprise when they scored their third try with Michael Collins and Giles combining effectively to create the score for Webb.
Lions immediately replied with a second penalty from Lombard to go in 13-19 down at the interval, but they suffered a setback five minutes after the restart when flank Sibusiso Sangweni was sin-binned for a tip-tackle on Collins.
The South Africans looked in trouble but they were gifted a second try. A misunderstanding between Webb and No,8 Morgan Morris at a scrum saw the ball run loose for Nohamba to pounce.
It was now a one-point game but Ospreys took advantage of Sangweni’s absence to score their bonus-point try with replacement Lake crashing over from close range.
Sangweni returned from the sin-bin in time to see Lombard knock over a penalty from the halfway line with effortless ease.
Walsh nullified that score with a straightforward kick but Lions would not lie down and produced a bout of excellent handling to send Van der Merwe flying over.
Lombard’s conversion saw Lions edge ahead and, with Walsh unable to make the most of his late opportunity, the visitors could celebrate.
Player of the Match
Lions scrumhalf Nohamba was a livewire throughout to exhort his team to a huge defensive effort.
With his side a man down in the sin-bin, his alertness in pouncing on an Ospreys’ error to score kept Lions in the contest at a stage when they could have easily folded.
Play of the match
The tough-tackling Lions had kept in contention for the first 70 minutes but Ospreys appeared to be in the ascendancy in the closing stages.
However, with the clock running down, Lions produced their best move of the match to send Van der Merwe flying down the right flank for the match-winning try.
Tries: Giles 2, Webb, Lake
Cons: Walsh 2
Tries: F Horn, Nohamba, Van der Merwe
Cons: Lombard 2
Pens: Lombard 3
Yellow card: Sibusiso Sangweni (Lions, 46′ – dangerous tackle)
Ospreys: 15 Max Nagy, 14 Luke Morgan, 13 George North, 12 Michael Collins, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Jack Walsh, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Garyn Phillips, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Rhys Davies, 20 Will Griffiths, 21 Jac Morgan, 22 Reuben Morgan Williams, 23 Joe Hawkins.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Zander du Plessis, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Quan Horn, 10 Gianni Lombard, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Emmanuel Tshituka, 6 Sibusiso Sangweni, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel (captain), 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Pieter Botha, 1 Sithembiso Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Jean-Pierre Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 20 Ruan Straeuli, 21 Morné van den Berg, 22 Jordan Hendrikse, 23 Sango Xamlashe.
Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Rhys Jones (Wales), Dai Cambourne (Wales)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)