Osborne’s battle to be noticed as Leinster win on grim night at RDS

Leinster 29 Ospreys 7

Jamie Osborne in action against Ospreys at RDS Arena. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Brendan Fanning

When the hum of the crowd drowns out the noise coming from the pitch you know it’s not quite the contest you hoped for.

Certainly the 11,586, who turned up a night that got worse the longer it went on, were engaged, but they weren’t quite on the edge of their seats.

They came expecting a winning bonus for the home side, as they always do. With nine minutes left that seemed to be sorted when replacement Peter Dooley got over on a pick and jam and had the presence of mind to raise his free hand to make the case. The officials said no.

Never mind. From a similar situation on the far side of the field three minutes later the excellent Scott Penny made a compelling case which required no referral.

It was appropriate the open side flanker should have sealed the deal for despite his quality it’s easy to overlook him in Leinster’s roster of back row riches. He deserves the attention.

The battle to be noticed is a tough one too for Jamie Osborne, given the number of very good centres available.

You wouldn’t have included Harry Byrne among them but the outhalf played outside his brother Ross here and got the man of the match award. He did well given he was filling in, but Osborne has developed into a player with serious potential.

This was his 12th game over a season and he looked very effective and utterly at home.

So did James Lowe, making his return from injury and scoring within a couple of minutes of coming off the bench. Andy Farrell will have been as pleased as Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster.

So Ospreys left empty handed against a side who struggled to put it all together, but never let their aggression drop. There was a clear sense that Ospreys had dodged a whole hail of bullets in the first half.

They were 8-0 behind after Ross Byrne had opened with a penalty and then converted a lovely try by Jordan Larmour, who looked sharp and hungry, latching onto Byrne’s perfectly weighted grubber kick behind the Welsh defence.

Four minutes later Luke McGrath stepped inside Will Griffiths from close range but before Byrne could place ball on the tee the score had been wiped by the TMO for a knock-on against Michael Ala’atoa.

Ospreys might have been better off wearing that one for the seven points hit came a few minutes later, through Cian Healy, and this time at the added expense of a card for their fine number eight Morgan Morris.

With Morris off the field Leinster had three chances to drive on a bit but came up short on all three: penalised at an attacking five metre scrum; Dave Kearney opting not to pass to Osborne in a great position; and then being held up over the Ospreys line.

They actually finished the half in their own 22 defending a kick ahead by Rhys Webb so were happy enough to get off the field with their 15-0 lead.

By the time they returned the rain had arrived, and if the first period had a high enough error count then the change in conditions only made things worse.

This was really not what Ospreys needed, give the overhaul job they had on their hands. You want a dry ball, unless your pack are so powerful it doesn’t matter — which wasn’t the case.

And that’s ultimately how they were undone. When an attack broke down in Leinster’s 22 they paid at the far end through Lowe. Penny’s try with a couple of minutes left closed the show on a miserable night.

Scorers — Leinster: J Larmour, C Healy, J Lowe, S Penny 1T each; R Byrne 1P, 3C. Ospreys: R Webb 1T; G Anscombe 1C.

Leinster: J O’Brien (A Byrne 73); J Larmour, J Osborne, H Byrne, D Kearney (J Lowe 54); R Byrne, L McGrath (capt)(N McCarthy 63); C Healy (P Dooley 54), J Tracy (S Cronin 55), M Ala’atoa (T Clarkson, blood, 10-19; 68), R Molony, R Baird (J Dunne 68), M Molony (R Ruddock 54), M Deegan, S Penny.

Ospreys: D Evans; K Giles, M Collins, K Williams (T Thomas-Wheeler 67), L Morgan; S Myle (G Anscombe 60), R Webb (R Morgan-Williams 76); N Smith (R Jones 55), S Parry (E Taione 55) T Botha (R Henry 55), B Davies (L Ashley 67), W Griffiths, E Roots, M Morris (yc 29-39; D Lydiate 55), H Deaves.

Referee: A Brace (IRFU).