Ospreys slay Dragons
URC MATCH REPORT: Michael Collins scored two tries to get the Ospreys’ United Rugby Championship season off to a winning start as they beat the Dragons 27-23 at Rodney Parade.
Dragons started well to lead at half-time but slowly but surely the visitors became the dominant force to pick up the points.
Luke Morgan scored Ospreys’ third try with Gareth Anscombe kicking two penalties and three conversions.
Josh Lewis and Rhodri Williams scored tries for Dragons with Sam Davies kicking two penalties and two conversions as well as landing a drop goal.
Ospreys suffered two early blows. First captain Rhys Webb departed for an HIA and in his absence Dragons took the lead when Lewis raced on to a well-judged kick from Davies to score.
The visitors’ woes continued when centre Owen Watkin was yellow-carded for an illegal clear-out on Dragons flanker Ollie Griffiths, with Davies extending the hosts’ lead with a penalty.
Webb was able to return in time to see Collins reduce the arrears as the New Zealander, who was making his debut for the region, tore through the defence to sore an excellent solo try.
Davies kicked his second penalty before Watkin returned from the sin-bin but Dragons still picked up the next score with a neat drop goal from Davies.
A penalty from Anscombe kept Ospreys in contention but Dragons just shaded the half and deservedly led 16-10 at the interval.
Another Anscombe penalty was the first score of the second half before Dragons lost centre Jack Dixon to the sin-bin for a deliberate offside after Mat Protheroe had split the defence with an elusive run.
The Ospreys immediately capitalised on Dixon’s absence with a second try for Collins to put them in front for the first time before a break from Anscombe sent Morgan over.
Adam Beard came on for his first appearance for the Ospreys since returning from the Lions tour while the Dragons introduced Jamie Roberts and Williams in an attempt to reverse their fortunes.
The visitors sought to protect Anscombe, who was playing his first league match for over two years, by taking him off with 10 minutes remaining and Dragons took advantage when Williams darted his way to score and set up a tense finish but Ospreys held on.
Player of the match
Collins formed a potent centre partnership with Wales international Watkin and could soon be of interest to national coach Wayne Pivac as he is qualified through his Welsh grandfather.
He, like his team, grew into the game with his strong running and was rewarded with two tries.
Play of the match
Collins showed why he will be a valuable recruit for the Ospreys as he ran a delightful line to receive a well-timed pass from Webb and tear a huge hole in the Dragons’ defence to score his first try.
For the Dragons
Tries: Lewis, Williams
Cons: Davies 2
Pens: Davies 2
Tries: Collins 2, Morgan
Cons: Anscombe 3
Pens: Anscombe 2
Dragons: 15 Josh Lewis, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Jack Dixon, 12 Aneurin Owen, 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Sam Davies (c), 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Ross Moriarty (c), 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Ben Carter, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Ellis Shipp, 1 Aki Seiuli
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Chris Coleman, 19 Joe Maksymiw, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Jamie Roberts, 23 Ioan Davies
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Mat Protheroe, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Rhys Webb (c), 8 Morgan Morris, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Will Griffiths, 5 Rhys Davies, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Ethan Roots, 21 Reuben Morgan Williams, 22 Josh Thomas, 23 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler
Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Tom Spurrier (Wales)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)