Ospreys, Sarries share spoils

Date published: January 14 2018

A last-minute penalty from Dan Biggar rescued Ospreys a 15-15 draw at the Liberty Stadium against Saracens.

It was a tightly fought first 40, with three Owen Farrell penalties putting Saracens into a narrow 9-6 lead in Swanse. Biggar had the better of the second half though and his kick right at the death made it a 15-15 tie.

The final Champions Cup tie of the day pitted second against third in Pool 2, with Ospreys sitting narrowly ahead of their Premiership opponent with victory a must for both sides. It was Saracens who had the edge in their previous meeting though, beating Ospreys back in October. And if they were to go any further in defending their European crown, they had to replicate that result.

Saracens were able to hand a start to Liam Williams for the first time since November, whilst the main bit of information in the hosts' line-up was the fact they could call upon captain Alun Wyn Jones, who recovered from a blow suffered in their last outing.

It was the visitors who started the stronger and after surviving an early onslaught, Ospreys did fall behind when Farrell slotted through the first attempt at the sticks of the night. Saracens threatened to add to that early advantage, and spent much of the first 20 minutes pinned metres from the hosts' try line. Though they couldn’t get over, Farrell did double the advantage with a second penalty.

The hosts got off the mark on the half hour point through Biggar, but Farrell restored a six point advantage as Saracens kept Ospreys at arm’s length. Biggar was on hand right at the end of the half though, kicking another three as Ospreys went into the break trailing 9-6.

Biggar made it three from three a couple of minutes into the second half to level, only for Farrell to go up the other end and put the three point gap back in a match dominated by both playmakers. And for Farrell, he moved up to fourth in the all-time European Cup points scoring, overtaking Diego Dominguez as he moved to 647.

Ospreys were the better side in the second half but couldn’t turn possession into meaningful points. They were given a big helping hand though when Saracens lost a man. Sam Davies leapt for the ball and he piled over the frame of Chris Wyles, who was shown yellow.

Biggar was on hand to make good use of the extra man with his fourth penalty of the night, but Farrell remained in fine form and made it 15-12 with just five minutes remaining. Right at the death though, Biggar made it all square with a penalty. His kick was pretty much the last action of the game, and Ospreys remain well set for a place in the knockouts thanks to their number 10’s heroics.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Pens: Biggar 5

For Saracens:
Pens: Farrell 5
Yellow Card: Wyles

Ospreys: 15 Sam Davies, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Dan Evans, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Rob McCusker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith 
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Will Jones, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Kieron Fonotia, 23 Dafydd Howells

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola 
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 George Kruis, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Chris Wyles

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland) 
Assistant referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Eddie Hogan O’Connell (Ireland) 
Television match official: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)