Planet Rugby

Connacht see off the Ospreys

15th February 2013 21:35

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Dan Parks

17 points: Dan Parks

Connacht fly-half Dan Parks kicked 17 points to defeat the Ospreys 22-10 at the Sportsground in the RaboDirect Pro12 on Friday.

The Ospreys had won the last nine contests between the teams but they faltered at the Sportsground, allowing Parks to dictate.

They traded tries in the first quarter, Kahn Fotuali'i striking first for the Ospreys before Willie Faloon replied with his maiden effort in Connacht colours. Parks slotted two of his three penalty attempts to move Eric Elwood's men 13-7 ahead at half-time.

Penalties cost the westerners when going down to the Scarlets last weekend, however this time they gave the Ospreys - conquerors of Ulster last week - precious few chances to close the gap. Matthew Morgan slotted a 69th-minute penalty, but Parks rubber-stamped the home victory with two second-half penalties and a late drop goal.

Although the visitors had the better of possession early on, Connacht snuck into a seventh-minute lead as Parks punished a scrum infringement by Cai Griffiths.

Playing into the wind, a good spell of ball retention duly paid off for the Ospreys on the quarter-hour mark. Morgan was held up short before his half-back partner Fotuali'i quickly tapped a penalty and burrowed over from close range. Morgan converted but the Ospreys lead lasted barely four minutes as the hosts hit back in determined fashion.

Connacht attacked from a solid scrum with John Muldoon and Michael Swift linking on the right wing. The ball was recycled and flanker Faloon's clever line took him over past two defenders.

Parks landed the difficult conversion for a 10-7 lead and was narrowly wide with a subsequent penalty from long distance, with the Ospreys front row coming under further scrum pressure.

Faloon was unceremoniously dumped in an apparent spear tackle that the match officials failed to penalise, as the game continued to canter along at a brisk pace.

Connacht had the final scoring opportunity before the break and Parks stepped up to widen the gap to six points, rewarding his forwards for another power-packed scrum.

The wind advantage was with the Ospreys for the second period, but a Kyle Tonetti block and a subsequent three-pointer from Parks kept Connacht on course.

The Ospreys failed to follow up on a promising lineout maul, while Parks' cross-field kick helped the returning Gavin Duffy bring Connacht downfield. The former Scotland international drew a drop-goal attempt wide and as time ticked by, the Ospreys continued to make errors and struggle for accuracy.

Alun Wyn Jones' first start for the Welsh region since October was not going to plan, and Danie Poolman went close to collecting a loose ball during a dangerous counter-attack.

Minus a raft of Wales internationals, the title holders brought on Rhys Webb and Jonathan Thomas and a gradual improvement led to Morgan's lone penalty goal. Steve Tandy's men probed from the restart, yet a crucial turnover from Duffy relieved the pressure on Connacht.

Then a pinpoint kick from Parks allowed Robbie Henshaw to hammer Richard Fussell in the tackle and the Ospreys full-back coughed up a penalty for holding on.

Parks clipped the place-kick over from the left for a 19-10 scoreline and the final nail in the Ospreys coffin was driven in by the fly-half's sweetly-struck drop goal, two minutes from time.

Those kicks took the losing bonus point away from the Ospreys and James King's yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Faloon saw them end the match with 14 men.

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Try: Faloon
Con: Parks
Pens: Parks 4
Drop Goal: Parks

For Ospreys:
Try: Fotuali'i
Con: Morgan
Pen: Morgan

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Kyle Tonetti, 11 Danie Poolman, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Nathan White (capt), 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Rodney Ah You, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Andrew Browne, 20 Johnny O'Connor, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Gavin Duffy.

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Tom Habberfield, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Jonathan Spratt, 11 Ben John, 10 Matthew Morgan, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Morgan Allen, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Joe Bearman, 5 James King, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (capt), 3 Cai Griffiths, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dwyer, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Lloyd Peers, 20 Jonathan Thomas, 21 Arthur Ellis/Sam Davies, 22 Rhys Webb, 23 Ross Jones.

Referee: Giuseppe Vivarini (Italy)
Assistant referees: Michael Black (Ireland), Will O'Connor (Ireland)
Television match official: Jude Quinn (Ireland)
Assessor: Michael Carroll (Ireland)

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