Flying winger Aisea Natoga scored three as the Ospreys ran out comfortable 34-9 derby winners over Cardiff Blues on Friday.
Natoga's treble and scores by Ashley Beck and Rhys Webb saw the Swansea-based region, watched by a Liberty Stadium crowd of just under 9,000, pick up all five points and cement their place in the play-off zone. It was their 13th win in a row against fellow Welsh opposition, while the Blues' winless run on the road in the PRO12 continues.
Ospreys were well worth their 17-9 half-time lead, running in three tries with the boot of Gareth Davies being the Blues' only source of points. Centre Beck was first to get his name on the scoresheet with just 10 minutes gone after good work from fellow Wales' internationals Justin Tipuric and Alun Wyn-Jones. Dan Biggar added the extras with what proved to be his only successful kick of the first half.
Playing their first game since Phil Davies' resignation, the Blues offered very little as an attacking force but a Davies penalty, after the Ospreys had infringed following Webb's charged down kick, got them on the board.
Webb atoned for that error shortly after when he stabbed a smart kick down the narrow side for Natoga to run on and score. Ospreys continued to stretch the Blues by playing with width, Jeff Hassler impressing with his work rate, but two long-range penalties from Davies cut the deficit to just three points.
The home side's superiority was better reflected when the two Sams, Lewis and Davies, combined well to put in Natoga for his second. Blues were unable to change the course of events in the second period and Ospreys went further ahead when the lively Webb darted past two defenders and touched down at the second attempt after initially being held up inches short of the line.
Biggar turned the five points into seven with the conversion. A lack of conviction and a plethora of mistakes from both sides, admittedly in wet conditions, brought a lull in the intensity as the game entered the final quarter. With 66 minutes on the clock, Blues finally strung together some phases and Robin Copeland touched down. However, a knock on earlier in the move from Gareth Davies meant play was called back by referee Nigel Owens.
Natoga had the final word when he squeezed in at the corner after shrugging off the tackle of Alex Cuthbert, whose disappointing night was complete when he was tap tackled by Joe Bearman en route to the try line with his only opportunity of the night.
Tries: Beck, Natoga 3, Webb
Cons: Biggar 3
For Cardiff Blues:
Pens: Davies 3
Ospreys: 15 Sam Davies, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Aisea Natoga, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Lewis, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Ryan Jones, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Adam Jones, 19 James King, 20 Joe Bearman, 21 Morgan Allen, 22 Tom Habberfield, 23 Hanno Dirksen.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Ellis Jenkins, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Chris Dicomidis, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Rhys Williams, 1 Gethin Jenkins (c).
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Macauley Cook, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Simon Humberstone, 23 Isaia Tuifua.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wal)
Assistant referees: Ian Davies, Jon Mason (both Wal)
TMO: Dermot Moloney (Ire)