Ospreys off on the right foot

31st Dec 2007, 16:38

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Swansea Star: There was another match-winning performance from James Hook

Swansea Star: There was another match-winning performance from James Hook

The Ospreys will enter 2008 with their tails up after recording a stodgy but much-needed 22-3 victory over the Cardiff Blues at the packed Liberty Stadium on New Year's Eve.

The Ospreys will enter 2008 with their tails up after recording a stodgy but much-needed 22-3 victory over the Cardiff Blues at the packed Liberty Stadium on New Year's Eve.

Gavin Henson's late withdrawal before kick-off had little effect as James Hook kicked 17 points as the Ospreys stopped the Blues from going top of the Magners League.

Although a big crowd of 16,109 were attracted to this New Year's Eve derby they went home with just one try to talk about - a second-half effort from Ospreys hooker Huw Bennett.

That score helped the Ospreys open up a 19-point lead which the Blues failed to dent in the final 28 minutes.

It gave the home side only their third Magners League win of the campaign.

The first-half was so poor in quality that there was not one clear try-scoring opportunity created.

The main problem was slow ball from the breakdown, unflinching defences and a string of handling mistakes that produced little entertainment.

Although the Blues enjoyed an advantage in possession and especially territory, the Ospreys built up a 9-0 lead.

After Ben Blair failed with an eighth-minute penalty goal, Hook was on target after 14, 17 and 22 minutes - all from ruck offences.

With slow ball at the ruck area continuing to blight the match, referee Nigel Owens lost his patience, sending Marty Holah to the sin-bin after 30 minutes - five minutes after Blair opened the Blues' account.

It was all Ospreys in the opening 20 minutes of the second half as the Blues challenge was slowly killed off.

An offence from a scrum gave Hook his fourth straight penalty on 46 minutes, and just three minutes later Maama Molitika found himself in the sin-bin for a professional foul at a ruck which saw Hook convert penalty number five.

While down to 14 men the Blues conceded the only try of the game a minute later when Bennett squeezed over from a yard out after some creative play from Shane Williams.

Although the Blues fought hard to get back on terms they were forced to be content with staying in second place in the Magners League, a point behind Leinster.

The scorers:

For the Ospreys:
Try: Bennett
Con: Hook
Pens: Hook 5

For Cardiff Blues:
Pen: Blair

Ospreys: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Nikki Walker, 13 Mark Taylor, 12 Andrew Bishop , 11 Shane Williams, 10 James Hook, 9 Justin Marshall, 8 Ryan Jones (c), 7 Marty Holah, 6 Filo Tiatia, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Huw Bennett , 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Alun Wyn Jones, 19 Jonathan Thomas, 20 Mike Phillips, 21 Shaun Connor, 22 Jonathan Vaughton.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Ben Blair, 14 Gareth Thomas, 13 Jamie Robinson, 12 Tom Shanklin, 11 Jamie Roberts, 10 Nic Macleod, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Xavier Rush (c), 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Maama Molitika, 5 Scott Morgan, 4 Deiniol Jones, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Gareth Williams, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Gary Powell, 17 T Rhys Thomas, 18 Mark Lewis, 19 Andy Powell, 20 Darren Allinson, 21 Rhys Jones, 22 Dafydd Hewitt.

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)