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Ospreys (9) 19 - 15 (10) Leinster Rugby
Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Sunday, 28th November 2010, 17:00

It was a small group of Leinster fans that travelled to Osprelia for last weekend's Magner's league clash between Ospreys and Leinster, a journey made all the more difficult by the weather. Between delays at Dublin airport and poor driving conditions on the UK roads great effort was made to attend..

In the first few minutes both teams competed for territory and tested each the other's fielding with a kicking game. Attempts to run the ball led to a series of scrums and an all too familiar series of early engages. Ospreys had their first line break in the 7th minute when inside centre Ashley Beck was put through by Jerry Collins. Finding himself without support he threw the ball away. Shane Horgan knocked on in the act of collecting and Ospreys had a scrum just inside the Leinster 22. Jerry Collins passed off the back of the scrum to Osprey scrum-half Rhys Webb. He was tackled close to the posts. Leinster gained possession at the ruck but were penalised for not releasing. Dan Biggar opened the scoring for Ospreys much to the delight of Ospreys Director of coaching Scott Johnson, who it must be said looked a little like an X-factor outtake with his headset and head-band.

Nacewa collected the re-start beautifully and some good play from Leinster followed until Horgan knocked on. Both teams conceded penalties outside the range of the kickers and were guilty of handling errors. The game swung back and forth until a quickly taken penalty by Isaac Boss on the half way line for one of these gave Leinster momentum and a line break from Ian Madigan. Ospreys were penalised for not rolling away from the next ruck and Collins was issued with a team warning for too many penalties from Wilkinson. Nacewa converted the penalty from just outside the Ospreys 22 to bring the sides level.

Within seconds of the restart Wilkinson acted on his warning and sent prop Duncan Jones to the bin for not rolling away. This led to a good pressure from Leinster and an overhead pass from a touch bound Nacewa put Conway over in the corner for the first try of the game. Nacewa converted to bring Leinster's total to 10. Ospreys pressurised from the re-start but McFadden shot from Leinster's defence to tackle Beck. Unfortunately he knocked on in the tackle as he looked to be through for a race to the line. This scrum led to a period of pressure on Leinster in their 22 but Ospreys handling let them down and Leinster eventually cleared their lines from a scrum penalty.

Leinster had clean ball from the resulting line-out and a great run from McFadden brought play into the Osprey's half. Further ground was made by Conway and Ryan but the ball went forward off Shane Horgan's knee in a tackle, allowing Rhys Webb to send the ball back deep into Leinster territory. McFadden retrieved and Leinster were given put in at the scrum. Sloppy play from the Leinster backs saw Madigan almost caught on his own line. He did well to keep possession until support arrived and Boss box-kicked to touch from the resulting ruck. Leinster got a free kick from the line-out which Boss took quickly. Leinster knocked on at the next ruck. Osprey pressure continued and Stephen Keogh was penalised for not rolling away but not carded much to the disgust of the vocal Osprey support. Biggar converted to bring the Ospreys to 6. A scrum penalty given against Newland 3 minutes later allowed Biggar to bring the score within 1 and it remained 9-10 at the break.

A knock-on from the re-start led to a scrum penalty. This gave Biggar another shot at goal and, ultimately, gave Ospreys an early second half lead. Leinster regained the lead however 2 minutes later. A kick through from Nacewa was over-run by players from both sides before being collected and touched down in an almost Drico-esque fashion by Nacewa himself.

Play was stopped for an injury to Andrew Conway. Not to be dismissive of what we now know to be whiplash but I'm sure all Leinster fans were relieved to hear the diagnosis after witnessing the understandable precautions being taken.

The game resumed with an Osprey scrum and again kicks were exchanged. Shane Horgan and Fergus McFadden put great pressure on Ospreys after chasing Horgans's own kick but Ed O'Donoghue was penalised and yellow carded from the resulting ruck. Jason Harris-Wright was perhaps lucky not to join him in the bin for what was deemed to be a spear tackle on Marty Holah. The Ospreys pressurised the Leinster line from the resulting line-out and in a display James Jones would have been proud of Wilkinson gave Leinster their second yellow card within 3 minutes. Ian Madigan was sin-binned for not rolling away. With Leinster down to 13 men the Ospreys went for the scrum. To a less educated eye it might have appeared that the Ospreys front row were driving up. However three penalties later Wilkinson awarded Ospreys a penalty try which Biggar duly converted.

It proved to be the decisive score. Osprey's soaked up Leinster pressure. They were penalised for offside but Nacewa's kick fell short. The return of O'Donoghue and replacement of Ryan with Ruddock only increased the pressure from Leinster but they were penalised for holding on in the Osprey 22 and the pressure was relieved. Leinster were again penalised from the resulting line-out. This time Biggar opted for the shot but he pulled his kick to the right and McFadden was able to clear. Leinster continued to pressurise. Conway's replacement Dave Kearney made good ground with a kick and chase and again with a run up the wing after Nacewa kept an Osprey penalty from finding touch. Leinster kept up the pressure right till the final whistle but Ospreys and Wilkinson were up to the job and they ran out 19-15 winners.

To rub salt in the wound Leinster slip to 6th in the table with Ospreys overtaking them but that losing bonus point could well be critical come the business end of the season.

Match Statistics
Leinster Rugby
Teams Barry Davies
15 Isa Nacewa
Gareth Owen
14 Shane Horgan
Sonny Parker
13 Eoin O'Malley
Ashley Beck
12 Fergus McFadden
Richard Fussell
11 Andrew Conway
Dan Biggar
10 Ian Madigan
Rhys Webb
9 Isaac Boss

Duncan Jones
1 Heinke van der Merwe
Richard Hibbard
2 Jason Harris-Wright
Craig Mitchell
3 Clint Newland
Ian Gough
4 Leo Cullen (C)
Ian Evans
5 Ed O'Donoghue
Justin Tipuric
6 Dominic Ryan
Marty Holah
7 Shane Jennings
Jerry Collins (C)
8 Stephen Keogh

Replacements Mefin Davies
16 Tom Sexton
Joe Rees
17 Jack McGrath
Cai Griffiths
18 Mike Ross
James Goode
19 Eoin Sheriff
Tom Smith
20 Rhys Ruddock
Jamie Nutbrown
21 Paul O'Donohoe
Matthew Morgan
22 Ian McKinley
Tom Isaacs
23 Dave Kearney
Not Considered
due to Injury
Jonathan Spratt,
Ben Lewis,
Morgan Allen,
Eli Walker,
Ryan Bevington,
Ben John,
Dai Flanagan,
Shane Williams,
Kristian Phillips

Stan Wright,
Kevin McLaughlin,
Shaun Berne,
Luke Fitzgerald,
Rob Kearney,
Richardt Strauss,
Trevor Hogan
Officials Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Tim Hayes, Jon Mason (both WRU)
TMO: Tony Rowlands (WRU)

by William Wilson, © 2010-12-01