Ospreys keep Shield hopes alive
MATCH REPORT: Ospreys kept alive their hopes of winning the Welsh Shield with a 37-18 bonus-point win over ill-disciplined Dragons in their United Rugby Championship Round 16 match in Swansea.
The visitors lost Ross Moriarty to a yellow card and then Sio Tomkinson to a red one, both for dangerous challenges on young flyhalf Jack Walsh – who was forced to leave the game after failing an HIA.
Ospreys’ victory sees them lie five points behind Cardiff with each having two games remaining, one of which is a fixture between the sides.
Nicky Smith, Dan Lydiate, Morgan Morris, Iestyn Hopkins and Keiran Williams scored tries for Ospreys with Walsh kicking two penalties and a conversion. Luke Scully added two conversions.
Angus O’Brien and Will Reed each kicked a penalty for the Dragons with Jordan Williams scoring a try. They were also awarded a penalty try.
Ospreys began strongly to take a ninth-minute lead. A well-worked line-out move involving Sam Parry and Ethan Roots put the visitors’ defence on the back foot with Smith capitalising by powering over from close range.
Walsh converted and added a penalty as Dragons continued to get on the wrong side of referee Jaco Peyper.
It took the Gwent region 20 minutes to reach the opposition’s 22 but on doing so they picked up their first points with a penalty from Reed.
Ospreys responded with a second penalty from Walsh after he was tackled by prop Lloyd Fairbrother without having the ball.
Minutes later, Walsh was on the receiving end of a late challenge from Moriarty, which saw the Dragons’ flanker sin-binned and immediately the hosts looked to have capitalised.
Former Dragon Sam Parry crashed over from a driving line-out but TMO replays showed that the hooker had lost possession before grounding.
However, Dragons soon suffered another two blows in quick succession. First they lost number eight Ollie Griffiths with a shoulder injury before Lydiate finished off a round of passing before O’Brien kicked a long-range penalty to leave his side trailing 18-6 at the interval.
Two minutes after the restart, Moriarty returned in time to see Morris take advantage of some weak defence from the visitors to score before Tomkinson was sent off for a high tackle in the same passage of play.
Dragons showed some spirit to pick up a try from Jordan Williams but Keiran Williams raced 45 metres to score his side’s fifth.
Dewi Lake collected a yellow card for a high challenge on Bradley Roberts before Alun Wyn Jones departed on what may have been his last appearance for Ospreys on their home ground.
Dragons picked up a late penalty try with Gareth Thomas yellow-carded for collapsing the maul but the home side were convincing winners.
Player of the Match
There was a lot of back-row talent on view but Morgan Morris was the pick with a whole-hearted display to quell the durable Dragons. The number eight took the game to the opposition with a number of carries and when his scoring chance came, he took it in style.
Play of the Match
When Ross Moriarty returned from the sin-bin, Dragons still had an outside chance but that hope was immediately scuppered when Morgan Morris powered through their defence with visitors’ centre, Sio Tomkinson, red carded for a high tackle in the same move.
Tries: Smith, Lydiate, Morris, Hopkins, Williams
Cons: Walsh, Scully 2
Pens: Walsh 2
Tries: Williams, Penalty try
Cons: Penalty try does not require a conversion
Red card: Sio Tomkinson (Dragons, 43)
Yellow cards: Ross Moriarty (Dragons, 32), Dewi Lake (Ospreys, 66), Gareth Thomas (Ospreys, 75)
Ospreys: 15 Iestyn Hopkins, 14 Luke Morgan, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 George North, 10 Jack Walsh, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Ethan Roots, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun-wyn Jones, 4 Huw Sutton, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith (captain).
Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Ben Warren, 19 Rhys Davies, 20 Harri Deaves, 21 Matthew Aubrey, 22 Luke Scully, 23 Michael Collins.
Dragons: 15 Angus O’Brien, 14 Jordan Williams, 13 Sio Tomkinson, 12 Steff Hughes, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Will Reed, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ollie Griffiths, 7 Harrison Keddie (captain), 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 George Nott, 4 Sean Lonsdale, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Roberts, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Chris Coleman, 19 Huw Taylor, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Taine Basham, 22 Lewis Jones, 23 Max Clark.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales), Aaron Parry (Wales)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)