Ospreys grind past Exeter Chiefs

Date published: November 15 2015

The Ospreys registered a hard-fought 25-13 win over Exeter Chiefs in their Champions Cup opener at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.

Despite the result, the Welsh region were under the cosh for large periods but a late intercept try by Josh Matavesi secured victory after Dan Biggar had earlier kicked five penalties and a drop goal.

Exeter can count themselves unlucky that they didn't get anything from this fixture as they dominated for large periods, especially in the first half and they went into the interval holding a 10-6 lead.  

Ospreys dominated the opening exchanges but only had two penalties to show for their efforts. Biggar opened the scoring in the eighth minute, after the visitors strayed offside on defence and the Welsh pivot added another three-pointer from the kicking tee shortly afterwards when Matt Jess was penalised for a similar offence.

Gareth Steenson reduced the defict to three points, from the kicking tee in the 25th minute, before Exeter thought they had extended their lead when Luke Cowan-Dickie crossed the whitewash five minutes later.

His effort was disallowed, however, after television replays showed that he knocked on while crossing the try line.

Three minutes later, the visitors did take the lead, however, when James Short crossed for the opening try in spectacular fashion. Short shrugged off two defenders after running onto a pass from Will Chudley, who set up the try after selling Eli Walker a dummy close to the halfway line.

Steenson added the extras and the Chiefs had their tails up at the break. 

The second half started in similar fashion to the first with two Biggar penalties, which meant the home side led 12-10 after 48 minutes. 

The next 10 minutes was an arm wrestle as both sides tried to gain territorial advantage but Exeter regained the lead on the hour-mark when Steenson landed another penatly, after the home side infringed at a ruck.

After a sustained period of pressure inside Exeter's half, Biggar then landed his drop goal and his sixth penalty came in the 68th minute, after Moray Low was penalised for illegal scrummaging.

Exeter stepped up a gear as they tried to regain the lead but things went awry when Matavesi intercepted a Steenson pass on the edge of his 22. He held his composure and outpaced the Exeter chasers before crossing for the crucial score.

Biggar added the extras which sealed the win for the hosts and denied the visitors a losing bonus-point.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Try: Matavesi
Cons: Biggar
Pens: Biggar 5
Drop goal: Biggar

For Exeter Chiefs:
Try: Short
Con: Steenson
Pens: Steenson 2

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Dafydd Howells, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Hanno Dirksen.

Exeter: 15 Jack Nowell, 14 Matt Jess, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Don Armand, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Moray Low, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 Michele Campagnaro.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)