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DAVIES KICKS OSPREYS TO WIN AT THE LIBERTY

Neathswanseaospreys: 27 (13) Edinburgh Rugby: 13 (13)



After last weekend's disappointment for Scotland in the Principality, despite having played so well, this evening's match in Swansea was an opportunity for anotehr Scottish side to make that mental leap and win in Wales.  The Embramen have done this many times before, of course, and trips to Wales do not hold the same fears as they used to do in the far off days of the Welsh-Scottish league.  But they were up against a pretty strong Osprey squad in the fallow weekend between 6 Nations fixtures.  A real test for their top 6 hopes and their top 6 ambitions.  It is these matches they need to take points from.

In the end, it was the home side who ran out victorious, their young stand off Davies' beautiful tactical kicking putting them in the positions from which they scored the crucial tries.  His handling may let him down at times, but this young man looks like the latest quality product of the Welsh stand off production line.

The Gunners were first on the board, with Tonks goaling a penalty on nine minutes after the Ospreys had infringed under huge pressure from the dominant Embra scrum.  Edinburgh then gave away a silly penalty on 12 minutes, having failed to control the restart and Sam Davies slotted the simple kick following a ruck infringement.

The Ospreys themselves botched the restart immediately and gave away, firstly, ball, then a breakdown penalty on 14 minutes.  Tonks hit the post with a poor effort and the chance to retake the lead early went abegging.  Referee Mitrea was admirably hot on the breakdown.  But not as hot as Awesome Allan Dell, whose counterrucking work was really catching the eye thus far.  He won a breakdown penalty and Tonks had a longer effort on goal but this time the ball sailed through the posts to edge the Emramen 6-3 up on 17 minutes.

The Gunners were pinged offside in defence on 24 minutes as the home side started to build some phases in enemy territory.  Davies duly evened the score at six apiece in the damp conditions.  But the Gunners responded in brilliant fashion.  Beard turned ball over deep in the Ospreys 22.  The Gunners probed on the right wing, then moved the ball to the middle where Tonks cut inside and beat several tackles to offload superbly to the supporting Dell running inside for the loosehead to touch down under the posts.  Tonks converted and it was 13-6 Edinburgh on 27 minutes. That's what quick ball does for you.  Tonksie's been a bit off form recently, but he created this score beautifully in a glimpse of what his busy style can create.  Credit, too, to Sean Kennedy for clearing breakdown ball so sharply.

In what was becoming an exciting match, Ospreys' Canadian winger Hasseler broke superbly along his wing but was scragged and knocked on on the Embra 22.  Ritchie took the ball up well on 31 minutes, the tackler failed to release. Another long penalty but Tonks just shaved the upright wide.  Six points left on the park so far - would that come back to haunt the visitors? And the lead was indeed narrowed on 35 minutes, Underhill scoring a fine try in the corner after a smart kick behind the defence from Davies.  Lovely rugby and Davies' conversion was equally lovely, levelling the match at 13.

Lydiate executed a shocking arm-free tackle on Bresler on 37 minutes, aiming between the lock's foot and the knee. With Bresler's foot firmly planted, he could have caused a serious injury.  That is why such tackles are illegal.  The Welsh international was up immediately and asked for a replay.  It didn't do him any good as he ended up with a card. The Gunners kicked to the corner and rumbled goalwards, but they failed to control the ball and gave up the scrummage as the maul collapsed.  I'm not wild about mauls in the modern game so had a lot of sympathy for the way the Ospreys defended a visiting maul that was making rapid progress forwards.  And it was all square at the break in an intriguing match.  As is traditional, the next score would likely be crucial.

A superbly timed inside pass from Burleigh on half way put Watson sailing through a hole in the defence.  He was tackled on the 22 and one felt that Kennedy took the wrong option by putting Fife in possession alone on the blindside.  Watson was then pinged at the subsequent breakdown, allowing the Ospreys to clear and run time down far away from their own line.  They did better than that, forcing the Gunners to concede a breakdown penalty on 44 minutes, Davies' kick putting them 16-13 up.

Lydiate came back on then was almost immediately penalised for handling in the ruck.  Edinburgh were penalised attacking in the Osprey 22 and allowed the home side to clear after some attacking phases.  Lydiate looked to have executed another chop tackle to create the breakdown, but the penalty against the attacking side was correct nonetheless entering the middle quarter.  There was a feeling, perhaps, that Ospreys were starting to gain the upper hand.  Shades of Glasgow's draw against the same opposition, with the men in black coming back in the final quarter?

On 54 minutes, there was the very welcome sight of Grant Gilchrist returning to the fray after such a long time out with horrendous injury problems.  SHC came on at the same time, their first action being a defensive lineout after a superb Davies kick into touch inches from the Edinburgh line. They exited very well, but the Welsh region were still enjoying a purple patch.  But after 17 phases in the red zone, the Edinburgh defence forced the Ospreys into a long dropped goal effort but Davies, deep in the pocket, knocked on.  Excellent defence.  A turning point going into the final quarter, particularly with the Gunners' scrum still smashing their opposite numbers?  Different personnel, same result.

But Burleigh played the scrum half at the ruck to give away an easy penalty and Davies put the Welshmen 19-13 up. Edinburgh needed to be careful as the penalties were mounting up in defence and the temptation on referees is always to even the score in the card department.  They were starting to build some pressure and Hamish Watson surged up the touchline but was forced out in the enemy red zone after some good Edinburgh continuity.   With the Ospreys playing the ball out of their own 22, tonight's skipper Cochrane was pinged at the breakdown and - inevitably, I'm afraid - carded.  

Things got worse, as Davies again kicked cleverly to touch in the Embra 22 and stand-in thrower SHC threw squint to give the Ospreys an attacking lineout.  They defended well, mind, but were penalised in front of the posts.  Davies slotted the kick to take away the Gunners' losing bonus point.  22-13 on 71 minutes and this match was slipping away from the Embramen.  

The Ospreys' kicking game again paid dividends, Burleigh having to carry out in his 22.  The home side put in a set of quick phases and eventually Otten crossed in the corner for a good try.  27-13 Ospreys on 78 minutes.  But the Gunners kept plugging away in the hope of creating the converted try that would give them a losing bonus.  They won a penalty on 79 minutes and kicked in to the 22 for the last hurrah.  The maul rumbled forward with the men in black defending cutely and the smarter side duly ran out victorious.  In so doing, they overtook the visitors in the table.