Monday 26 June 2017

Biggar steps up for Ospreys as Ulster blow early lead

Ospreys 23
Ulster 22

Ulster let a 13-point lead slip and lost a great chance to press their claims for a Magners League play-off slot as they let reigning champions the Ospreys recover from a horror start.

It also meant that Ulster missed a golden opportunity to leapfrog the Ospreys into fifth place on a weekend when runaway league leaders Munster were beaten in Italy and the fourth-placed Scarlets fell in Connacht.

Ulster scored at almost a point a minute in the opening quarter to create what looked like being a winning platform. But after that bright opening, which included two penalties from Ian Humphreys and a penalty try awarded when the Ulster playmaker was tackled without the ball in a foot race for the line, the scrum came under pressure and the penalties flowed.

Despite the great work of skipper Johann Muller at the line-out there were too many errors when the Ospreys finally got their act together.

They allowed axed Welsh out-half Dan Biggar to prove he can still hit the mark with his goalkicking as he punished the visitors by landing six penalties, one of which was a monster from 55 metres. Three Biggar penalties and a corner try from ex-All Black flanker Marty Holah were enough to edge them in front, but they didn't stay there for long.

Two silly home indiscretions at the start of the second half allowed Pienaar, who took over at out-half from the injured Humphreys, to put Ulster five points clear. But Biggar replied with three more penalties, two for scrum offences, to secure victory.

Ospreys -- R Fussell; T Prydie (T Isaacs 71), S Parker, A Beck, H Dirksen; D Biggar, R Webb (J Nutbrown 69); D Jones (R Bevington 57), H Bennett, C Griffiths, I Gough, I Evans, T Smith (J King 76), M Holah (J Tipuric 76), J Collins (capt).

Ulster -- A D'Arcy, C Gilroy, N Spence, I Whitten (L Marshall 67), S Danielli; I Humphreys (P Marshall 31), R Pienaar; B Young (J Cronin 60), N Brady (A Kyriacou 64), D Fitzpatrick (B Young 72), J Muller (capt), T Barker (R Caldwell 66), C Henry, W Faloon, P Wannenburg.

Ref -- N Patterson (SRU)

Irish Independent

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