Connacht capitalise on Davies off day to climb to second in Guinness PRO12 table
Published 24/10/2015 | 16:01
Connacht climbed to second in the Guinness PRO12 table, level on points with leader Scarlets, after condemning Ospreys to their fourth defeat of the season at the Liberty Stadium.
Man of the match Bundee Aki and wing Matt Healy scored a try apiece with Jack Carty and Craig Ronaldson combining to supply 11 points with the boot.
The Ospreys, who had to settle for a losing bonus point, also scored two tries through number eight Dan Baker and replacement flanker Justin Tipuric but crucially fly-half Sam Davies could only kick six out of a possible 19 points on offer.
The result leaves the Ospreys with just one win from their opening five fixtures - even though they had Wales World Cup forwards Tipuric, Paul James, Aaron Jarvis and James King in their matchday squad, along with Eli Walker. However, Wales front-line regulars Dan Biggar, Scott Baldwin and Alun Wyn Jones were absent.
In-form Connacht made five changes from their win over Zebre with Carty, Darragh Leader, Shane Delahunt, Aly Muldowney and Eoghan Masterson all coming into the team.
Connacht had much the best of the first half to lead 11-8 at the break - but Ospreys struck first blood with Davies kicking a penalty on three minutes.
Carty missed a seventh minute penalty but after a fine break from scrum-half Kieran Marmion the fly-half was able to put over an easier attempt from in front of the posts.
The visitors lost captain and full-back Tiernan O'Halloran after hurting himself in a mid-air collision with Richard Fussell and two minutes later Ospreys were in front with a try for Baker created with a dart up the left by Walker and good link work from full-back Fussell.
A combined attack from Marmion and Aki forced Josh Matavesi into a cynical piece of ball-killing by his posts which earned him a yellow card. It also allowed Carty to kick his second penalty.
And, down to 14 men Ospreys, conceded a try when wing Healy went over on the left exploiting space from the blindside of a scrum courtesy of Marmion.
Davies had a penalty chance to draw the points level at the break but his long-range effort fell short.
The second half saw a change of referee with Welshman Sean Brickell replacing Irishman Andrew Brace.
After only four minutes of the restart Connacht stretched their lead to 10 points with a try for the lively Aki after good work by his co-centre Craig Ronaldson, who also converted.
Ospreys brought on Tipuric and James, making his first appearance for the region for three seasons, and the double change had an effect as Davies kicked a 49th minute penalty.
But Davies was not having his best day with the boot, missing a penalty in the 65th minute.
However, with 11 minutes remaining Tipuric was over for the Ospreys' second try after good work by Davies, Scott Otten and Dan Evans - but Connacht still led 18-16 after Davies failed with the conversion, meaning the home fly-half had missed three penalties and two conversions - a total of 13 points.
Two minutes from time Ronaldson kicked a penalty to extend Connacht's advantage to five points and complete the scoring.