Ospreys end year on high
December 31, 2012
Ashley Beck grabbed the Ospreys second try against the Dragons © Getty Images
The Ospreys kept themselves in the RaboDirect Pro 12 title mix with a second derby win in five days, this time against a poor Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.
Wing Eli Walker and replacement centre Ashley Beck got tries either side of half-time, with outside-half Dan Biggar converting both.
The only points for the Dragons came via a sole penalty from wing Tom Prydie in a match which never lived up to expectations.
The Ospreys began the game with a bang as they took their first steps towards adding the Dragons to the scalp of the Scarlets who they overwhelmed 32-3 at the Liberty Stadium on Boxing Day.
Just four minutes into the match, they caught the home side napping on the left as full-back Richard Fussell, a former Dragon himself, darted down the left and reached the 22 before setting Walker off towards the line.
Walker had a full head of steam but found Dragons opposite number Will Harries bearing down on him but just managed to get the ball down for the try, which Biggar converted, after referee Nigel Owens consulted with video official Paul Adams.
It provided early promise of a possible full-on New Year's Eve classic but that was the only high point of an otherwise tame opening period.
Wales number eight Toby Faletau had a couple of runs for the Dragons and looked lively. One of those attacks saw fellow Welsh cap Richard Hibbard take the back row out after he kicked ahead which resulted in the first points for the Gwent side from Prydie's only penalty.
It was then a tale of mistakes and turnovers from both sides, with Biggar missing two difficult penalty attempts, one from wide out and the other from 43 metres.
The Ospreys also had the edge in the set-pieces with the all-international front row of Ryan Bevington, Hibbard and Adam Jones giving opposite numbers Phil Price, Sam Parry and Dan Way a tough evening.
And it was all Ospreys after the interval as they forced the Dragons into defensive mode and had a couple of chances to score when Biggar charged down a clearance kick from Lewis Robling inside the Gwent 22 but saw the ball go dead before he had a chance to ground it.
Then Biggar, who is being touted as the national number 10 for Wales' Six Nations Championships opener against Ireland in a month, kicked over the home defence inside the Dragons' 22 but saw Prydie win the race to the ball as it bounced over the in-goal area.
It was third time lucky for the Ospreys, though, just after the hour as Robling's dire day with clearance kicks struck again. He was charged down near the posts and, as the ball spurted out left across the Dragons' try-line, replacement centre Beck picked up and touched down under the posts, making Biggar's conversion simple.
That effectively ended the Dragons' chances of getting even getting a losing bonus point despite some further aggressive attempts to get things going from Faletau.
The Ospreys tied up possession between the half-way line and the home 22 for the final 10 minutes, giving them an eighth league victory of the season and leaving the Dragons 10 points adrift of Cardiff Blues for the third Heineken Cup spot for a Welsh region.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"I think in a couple of seasons London Irish can be a genuine force and contenders for the Premiership." Tom Hamilton talks to Brian Smith
"I hate this talk of survival, we are going there to compete." Tom Hamilton talks to London Welsh's Justin Burnell and Matt Corker
The latest Week in Pictures takes in Madagascar, Nick Cummins and all the latest photographs from Super Rugby
Tom Hamilton looks at the implications of Ulster's state of upheaval on the Ireland team