Ospreys try disallowed in narrow defeat to Connacht
Published 27/02/2016 | 23:16
Sam Davies' disallowed try was the main talking point at the end of Connacht's hard-fought 30-22 Guinness PRO12 win over the Ospreys at the Sportsground.
The Ospreys were left seething at the Sportsground after their fly-half's 63rd-minute effort was ruled out by the match officials for a double movement.
Although replays showed that tackler Kieran Marmion had lost his grip on Davies, referee George Clancy and TMO Jude Quinn disallowed it.
Had he scored, the Ospreys would have tie things up at 27-27. Connacht were always likely to bounce back, though, and a final penalty from Craig Ronaldson put them out of the visitors' reach.
A fast-paced and hugely entertaining first half delivered four tries, early scores from man of the match Bundee Aki and AJ MacGinty making it 14-3 before the Ospreys hit back through Ben John and Dan Baker.
A Ronaldson penalty saw the westerners retake the lead for half-time at 17-15 and the tries kept coming through Matt Healy and the fit-again Rhys Webb.
The PRO12 leaders managed to keep their noses in front and two more place-kicks from Ronaldson, coupled with some tigerish defending, saw them take a step closer to the play-offs and Champions Cup qualification.
The hosts missed the influence of captain John Muldoon who was withdrawn before kick-off with a tight hamstring. Hooker Tom McCartney stood in as skipper.
Connacht were quickly into their stride off a scrum in the Ospreys 22. Healy stepped off his right and offloaded out of a tackle for Aki to finish smartly just to the right of the posts.
Ronaldson's conversion was followed by an immediate response from Davies, who punished George Naoupu for holding on.
But Connacht's second converted try was not long in coming, Jake Heenan making the initial incision off a line-out on the 22 metre line. Quick ball saw Niyi Adeolokun gain further ground before popping a lovely pass for MacGinty to finish off.
The margin was cut to 14-8 soon after, the alert Davies tapping a quick penalty and looping a precise pass out for John to get over in the left corner past Adeolokun.
The lead changed hands again when burly number eight Baker showed great strength to barge over from a five-metre ruck, but Davies' conversion was cancelled out by Ronaldson's 28th-minute penalty.
Work-hungry forwards Baker and Sam Parry stood out in a bright patch for the visitors, finding holes in a Connacht defence that was coming under increasing pressure.
Into the second period, the Ospreys weathered an early storm before Healy, the league's top try scorer, struck for the ninth time. From Ronaldson's inside pass, the winger spun out of the tackle and hared for the line from 30 metres out.
Within four minutes, Wales scrum half Webb dived over on the end of a free-flowing move sparked by his half-back partner whose conversion restored the two-point margin.
The intensity ratcheted up again as Ronaldson answered back with two nerve-settling penalties after 58 and 67 minutes, a barnstorming break from Aki helping to set up the latter kick.
In between, Davies' delightful dart for the right corner was wrongly chalked off and Webb was then a pass away from creating a try in the opposite corner.
Pat Lam's clever use of the bench saw Connacht maintain a high work-rate, and a final ruck turnover by young flanker Sean O'Brien sealed what could prove to be a huge result come the end of the regular season.