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Ospreys: 29 Gunners: 12

Wales deservedly won a relatively undistinguished Six Nations this season by being the only team to play adventurous, running rugby throughout. They were at times a joy to watch, and good value for their first Grand Slam since their heyday in the 70s.

While there are a number of entertaining sides in the Celtic League, the Ospreys, under Lyn Jones, have been outstanding this season. And they made sure of more Welsh joy this evening, winning the championship in front of a capacity crowd at The Gnoll.

Gavin Henson gave the Ospreys the lead with three simple penalties in the first fifteen minutes in a determined home start in Neath. Although Edinburgh had some useful phases, the Ospreys defence looked sound, and the Henson boot nudged the home team to a healthy lead.

But the Gunners began to show at the end of the quarter, with a beautiful Di Rollo flip putting tonight's captain, Chris Paterson, away through a gap, then Laney almost surged over for the try. Good Gunners pressure quietened the crowd somewhat, and forced the Osprey penalty, but the skipper missed a relatively straightforward kick on 20 minutes.

A converted try by scrum-half Spice gave the Ospreys a commanding 16 - 0 lead. But with five minutes remaining in the half, Andy Kelly sprinted fully thirty yards to claw back a try for the visitors, converted by Paterson. A fourth Henson penalty left the half-time score at 19 - 7 Ospreys. Relatively comfortable for the Ospreys, but the Gunners were by no means out of it. They had had a number of useful spells, and were making the home side work for their championship.

As an illustration that the Gunners were causing the Ospreys some problems, the second half began with the Gunners pushing forward, but a penalty for holding on in the tackle gave Henson a penalty chance over fifty metres out. Barry Williams asked the tanned titan to go for goal, rather than touch in the corner, and he nailed a superb kick for a 22 - 7 lead, showing how indiscipline against the Ospreys can be fatal. Indeed, Henson's kicking was to prove the difference between the teams.

Scintillating Edinburgh play after 50 minutes earned generous praise from the home crowd. Sparked by a Godman quick drop out, the Gunners worked the ball through the phases, with all-action Andy Kelly, Blair, Cross, and Hines showing well, nearly seeing Paterson over in the corner, but the ball went forward. Then a Hines steal on his own 22 saw Laney make ground on the counter, but the Chainsaw missed what looked like a five man overlap for the score.

More super Edinburgh play from their own 10 saw the ball chucked about with abandon, long passes, great running, Paterson went for the corner, then slung the ball back left to Ali Dickinson. The youngster found himself one-on-one with scrum-half Spice. Of course, it was no contest - the pacey replacement tighthead took his man easily on the outside for an excellent try in the corner to reduce the lead to 22 - 12 on the hour, sowing the seeds of doubt among the crowd.

But the Ospreys scorched back with some excellent pressure, and after some fine Gunners defence in the 22, who else but Gavin Henson glided over for the try in the corner to rapturous acclaim, 29 - 12.

After a bit of extra-curricular activity, seeing Di Rollo retire with a head knock, the Gunners kicked a penalty to the corner to maintain the pressure, but the Ospreys defended the gain line well. A massive Laney pass to Southwell put the full-back in half a yard of space, but Shane Williams used his pace to smother the danger.

Yet, despite The Stopwatch's best efforts, playing a surprisingly long period of extra time, there were to be no more scores, with the Ospreys running out 29 - 12 winners and 2004-05 Celtic League champions.

With the youngest squad in the Celtic League, the Ospreys may be founding a dynasty that will establish them as a force in European rugby for years to come. What is, perhaps, less well-known is that all three of the Scottish teams have the next youngest squads in the League. So many key players in the Gunners squad are in their early twenties that the Ospreys' success this season should serve as an inspiration to them. With stability now assured off the park for the next three years, Edinburgh are well-placed to do the same.


OSPREYS: Henson 5P 2C 1T, Spice 1T,
EDINBURGH: Paterson 1C, Kelly 1T, Dickinson 1T


OSPREYS: Terblanche; Mustoe, Parker, Henson, S Williams; M Jones, Spice; D Jones, B Williams (c), Millward, Cockbain, Thomas, Jones, Tandy, Bater Replacements: Hibbard, A Jones, Bateman, Pugh, Rees, Seveali'I, Durston

EDINBURGH RUGBY: Hugo; Paterson ©, Di Rollo, Laney, Webster; Godman, Blair; Jacobsen, Kelly, Smith, Hines, Kellock, Hogg, Cross, Taylor. Replacements: Hall, Dickinson, Pringle, Callam, Lawson, MacDougall, Pyke

Referee: Alain "Stopwatch" Rolland (IRFU)