Planet Rugby

Williams leads the Ospreys to Twickenham

22nd March 2008 19:00

Share:

Sonny Parker looks to get the fend going on Farrell

Flying high: The Ospreys had far too much for a weak Saracens side

The Ospreys ensured the EDF Final would be a repeat of last season's showpiece with a 30-3 victory over Saracens at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Fielding eleven of Wales' Grand Slam winners many thought they would put Saracens to the sword, but with the roof on the stadium open swirling winds and snow made for a dour encounter. Although it was the Welsh contingent in the Ospreys ranks that injected brief moments of excitement into the game early on.

Having witnessed Leicester and Wasps serve up a feast of exciting rugby in the first semi-final the same was hoped of this game, yet with tempers on the boil the game never managed to flow. On several occasions the forwards engaged in needless bouts of handbags.

In fairness to those involved with Wales last week this game may have been something of an anti-climax, the same excuse can not be offered for the rest of the players. A select few players apart this was as ordinary as professional rugby gets for the bulk of the game.

Brent Russell was a constant danger to the Ospreys, it will be a mystery then as to why they insisted on kicking aimlessly to him for the best part of the first half. Sadly for Russell he had little support in attack, instead his good work was often wasted.

Having started the game at a rate of knots, twice crossing the line but twice denied by earlier infringements, the Ospreys soon lost their fizz and after thirty minutes only had a James Hook penalty to show for their efforts. In contrast Saracens never really got going, Brent Russell's darting runs aside they offered little.

It came as little surprise that Shane Williams was the one to spark the game into life on the stroke of half time. Gavin Henson, back to his best, forced the error in midfield with a huge tackle and Williams hacked ahead. With Richard Haughton, Brent Russell and Dan Scarbrough all giving chase it was the little Welsh try-scoring machine who pipped them to the post for the try.

Having stuttered to half time without so much as stringing a meaningful attack together the Ospreys seemed to wake from their slumber in the second half. The forward battle was still tetchy but the Ospreys were getting enough ball to finally turn pressure into points. First over the line was Henson, who handed off a weak Andy Farrell tackle before galloping twenty metres to score.

Having added a conversion and penalty Hook was able to sit back and watch as Filo Tiatia barged his way over within seconds of coming on. Hook duly added the extras and with a quarter of the game still to go the game was as good as over.

Saracens offered some resistance but when Ian Evans kicked ahead for Williams' second try their body language changed and you could see they had accepted defeat. They tried valiantly in the dying stages but with no luck as the Ospreys held on with ease.

The worry for Saracens now is that they take on the same opposition in two weeks time, only next time the stakes will be much higher - a place in the Heineken Cup semi-finals will be on the line. The Ospreys will be a stronger side by then, the fact they left four internationals on the bench suggests they were resting a few players this time out.

As to where Alan Gaffney goes between now and then is a fine question. The answer, whatever it is, will be there for all to see in two weeks. Saracens fans hope that there is a significant improvement on what was on display in Cardiff.

The Ospreys now will take on Leicester in the final, a repeat of last season's final. Last year Leicester won at a canter, so the Ospreys will be looking for revenge, bouyed by their Grand Slam winners.

Man of the Match: For Saracens Brent Russell was the lone light, and therefore it comes as no surprise that this award goes to an Osprey. Several played some fine rugby, Shane Williams included. But it was Gavin Henson who stood above the rest. His defence is simply superb and his attacking game gets better each week. Another polished display from Henson.

Moment of the Match: The game was in the balance until Shane Williams scored his first try. At that stage you knew the Ospreys would go on to win and set up a re-match with Leicester at Twickenham.

Villain of the Match: There were various incidents but nothing that serious. As frustrated as players may have become they did well to keep their fists to themselves.

The Scorers:

For Saracens:

Pen: Jackson

For Ospreys:

Tries: Williams 2, Henson, Tiatia

Cons: Hook 2

Pens: Hook 2

The Teams:

Saracens: 15 Brent Russell, 14 Richard Haughton, 13 Francisco Leonelli, 12 Andy Farrell, 11 Dan Scarbrough, 10 Glen Jackson, 9 Neil de Kock (c), 8 Ben Skirving, 7 Don Barrell, 6 Kris Chesney, 5 Hugh Vyvyan, 4 Chris Jack, 3 Cencus Johnston, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 1 Nick Lloyd.

Replacements: 16 Andy Kyriacou, 17 Cobus Visagie, 18 Tom Ryder, 19 Paul Gustard, 20 Moses Rauluni, 21 Kevin Sorrell, 22 Kameli Ratuvou.

Ospreys: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Johnny Vaughton, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Gavin Henson, 11 Shane Williams, 10 James Hook, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Ryan Jones (c), 7 Marty Holah, 6 Jonathan Thomas, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn-Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James.

Replacements: 16 Huw Bennett, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Lyndon Bateman, 19 Filo Tiatia, 20 Justin Marshall, 21 Daniel Biggar, 22 Andrew Bishop.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

Touch judges: Martin Fox (England), Peter Huckle (England)

TMO: Geoff Warren (England)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
Exeter vs WaspsExeter vs Wasps Preview
London Irish vs BathLondon Irish vs Bath Preview
Sunday , November 23
Saracens vs NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Preview
London Welsh vs Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Preview
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 22
Italy vs South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Preview
Scotland vs TongaScotland vs Tonga Preview
Romania vs CanadaRomania vs Canada Preview
Ireland vs AustraliaIreland vs Australia Preview
Wales vs New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Preview
England vs SamoaEngland vs Samoa Preview
France vs ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Preview
Sunday , November 23
Georgia vs JapanGeorgia vs Japan Preview
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Sunday , November 23
Treviso vs LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Preview
Edinburgh vs Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Preview
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Benetton Treviso19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle FalconsBath vs Newcastle Falcons Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Romania 13 - 18 JapanRomania vs Japan Report
England 28 - 31 South AfricaEngland vs South Africa Report
France 29 - 26 AustraliaFrance vs Australia Report
Scotland 16 - 24 New ZealandScotland vs New Zealand Report
Tonga 40 - 12 USATonga vs USA Report
Wales 17 - 13 FijiWales vs Fiji Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 14
Gloucester 15 - 22 HarlequinsGloucester vs Harlequins Report
Northampton 18 - 24 ExeterNorthampton vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 18 - 20 ArgentinaItaly vs Argentina Report
Canada 13 - 23 SamoaCanada vs Samoa Report
More International Match results
LV= Cup
Cardiff Blues 19 - 13 Scarlets
Ospreys 35 - 51 DragonsOspreys vs Dragons Report
Sunday , November 9
Wasps 43 - 22 London Irish
More LV= Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton726
2Exeter724
3Bath724
4Saracens724
5Wasps720