Friday 24 November 2017

Gopperth secures late draw at Ospreys

Ospreys 9 Leinster 9

Dave Kearney, Leinster, is tackled by James King, Ospreys
Dave Kearney, Leinster, is tackled by James King, Ospreys
Dominic Ryan, Leinster, is tackled by Hanno Dirksen, left, and Sam Davies, Ospreys
Dave Kearney, Leinster, in action against Hanno Dirksen, Ospreys

Jimmy Gopperth kicked a late penalty to earn a crucial draw for Leinster in their fight for an end-of-season Pro12 play-off place.

Leinster looked to have let a 6-0 lead slip away when nine points from the boot of the Ospreys' rookie out-half Sam Davies put them in control before Gopperth slotted his third penalty two minutes from the end.

It moved Leinster up to third in the Pro12 ahead of Munster but Matt O'Connor's side will know they must play much better if they are to secure a fifth title.

They face another difficult clash with the Ospreys' fierce rivals the Scarlets in west Wales in a week's time before an even tougher fixture against league leaders Glasgow Warriors.

O'Connor made seven changes from the side which had come from behind to beat Zebre but they were almost caught cold within 60 seconds of kick-off when Ospreys hooker Scott Otten burst through midfield.

Scrum-half Martin Roberts got quick ball but with an overlap out wide Ospreys full-back Dan Evans missed his man and threw a pass straight into touch.

It proved to be a rare chance in a tight opening half and it was only when the home side conceded a penalty in their own half after 14 minutes that Gopperth was able to break the deadlock.

Gopperth kicked a second penalty shortly afterwards as Leinster made the most of their limited territory.

It took the Ospreys until first-half injury time to threaten Leinster's try-line again and when the visitors were penalised for straying offside, out-half Davies reduced the deficit to three points with the boot.

Davies then slotted a drop goal two minutes after the restart to bring the Ospreys level and his second penalty after 55 minutes put the Welsh side in front for the first time.

The 21-year-old was then injured in a clash with Ben Te'o just before the hour mark and Leinster were able to take advantage of the disruption to force their way towards the Ospreys line. They went through 17 phases five metres from the Ospreys' try-line before hooker Richardt Strauss lost the ball in the tackle.

It was the only time the visitors managed to threaten the whitewash in the second half but Gopperth's long-range kick from the right touchline two minutes from the end was enough to secure a valuable draw.

Ospreys - D Evans; T Grabham, J Spratt, J Matavesi, H Dirksen; S Davies (R Fussell 59), M Roberts; R Bevington (68), S Otten, D Arhip (D Suter 79), T Cavubati, T Ardron (Capt), J Bearman (O Cracknell 72), J King, D Baker (M Allen 68).

Leinster - Z Kirchner; F McFadden, B Te'o, G D'Arcy, D Kearney; J Gopperth, I Boss (capt) (L McGrath 68); M Bent, R Strauss, T Furlong; T Denton (B Marshall 62), K Douglas; R Ruddock, J van der Flier, D Ryan (D Leavy 68).

REF - J Lacey (IRFU)

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