Saturday 20 October 2018

Leinster miss their chance to book early play-off place

Ospreys 32 Leinster 18

Rory O'Loughlin of Leinster is tackled by Rob McCusker of Ospreys. Photo: Sportsfile
Rory O'Loughlin of Leinster is tackled by Rob McCusker of Ospreys. Photo: Sportsfile

independent.ie Sportsdesk

The Ospreys inflicted only the second defeat of the year on Leinster as they beat their Irish rivals for the first time since April 2014.

Leinster could have clinched their ticket into the Guinness PRO14 play-offs with victory after Munster had done them a favour by beating the reigning champions Scarlets, but despite parading seven of the Irish Grand Slammers they were well beaten in the end.

Rory O'Loughlin of Leinster celebrates with teammate Luke McGrath. Photo: Sportsifle
Rory O'Loughlin of Leinster celebrates with teammate Luke McGrath. Photo: Sportsifle

The visitors hit the front with a seventh minute penalty by Ross Byrne. Good approach work by Rory O'Loughlin, Scott Fardy and Fergus McFadden created the bridgehead in the Ospreys 22 and hands at the breakdown earned the penalty shot.

Some ferocious tackling in the first-half led to both sides losing players to injuries. Ospreys back row Olly Cracknell was the first to go and then Leinster lost three of their back division.

Fergus McFadden and Noel Reid went off for HIAs and didn't return and then Dave Kearney, who had replaced Reid in the 23rd minute, left after only 11 minutes with his shoulder in a sling. That forced a back line reshuffle with Joey Carbery moving from full back to centre and Jamison Gibson-Park going in at full back.

The Ospreys made the most of the disruption as they plundered three tries to move into a 19-3 lead to seemingly leave Leinster all at sea. But despite their successes, there was a late sting in the tail in the half as Barry Daly picked up a vital score.

Jordi Murphy of Leinster is tackled by Dmitri Arhip, left, and Dan Biggar of Ospreys. Photo: Sportsfile
Jordi Murphy of Leinster is tackled by Dmitri Arhip, left, and Dan Biggar of Ospreys. Photo: Sportsfile

The first two of the three home tries came from the Ospreys' 'Mr Reliable', full back Dan Evans, as he benefitted from some neat approach work by Justin Tipuric and then Keiron Fonotia to score wide out on the left. Dan Biggar converted the first, but missed with his second attempt.

No sooner had Kearney departed than Ashley Beck created the opening for scrum half Tom Habberfield to dive over for the third try. Biggar had no problem with the conversion and all the home side had to do to see out the half was defend the re-start. But somehow Adam Byrne managed to out-jump Alun Wyn Jones to reclaim the kick-off and the move led to a try for Daly. Tipuric picked up the bonus-point try nine minutes after the break. Leinster kept in touch until Biggar kicked a penalty to stretch the gap to 11 points and added another with the final act of the game

Scorers - Ospreys: D Evans (2), T Habberfield, J Tipuric tries; D Biggar 3 cons, 2 pens. Leinster: B Daly, R O'Loughlin tries; J Carberry con, pen; R Byrne pen

Ospreys: D Evans; J Hassler, K Fonotia, A Beck (O Watkin 58), H Dirksen; D Biggar, T Habberfield (M Aubrey 64); N Smith (R Jones 61), S Otten, D Arhip (M Fia 61), B Davies, AW Jones (capt), O Cracknell (R McCusker 11, A Beard 67), J Tipuric, S Cross

Leinster: J Carbery; F McFadden (A Byrne 16), R O'Loughlin, N Reid (D Kearney 23, J Gibson-Park 34), B Daly; R Byrne, L McGrath (captain); J McGrath (E Byrne 46), S Cronin (J Tracy 50), A Porter (M Bent 50), R Molony, S Fardy, J Murphy (M Deegan 54), J Murphy, J Conan (I Nagle 64)

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)

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