Ospreys wallop Connacht

Date published: January 7 2017

Ospreys moved to the top of the PRO12 table following a dominant 29-7 triumph over Connacht at the Liberty Stadium.

The Welsh region controlled the opening period and deservedly took a 14-0 lead into the interval through Dan Baker and Olly Cracknell tries. Sam Davies added a penalty in the second half before Nicky Smith effectively sealed the victory when he touched down. 

Sean O'Brien responded for Connacht but Ashley Beck gave the Ospreys the extra point. Following a disappointing 2015/16 campaign, where they finished in the lower reaches of the division, Steve Tandy's men have found their form this season. They are a confident outfit and that showed against the defending PRO12 champions. 

They broke through the visiting rearguard at will and duly opened the scoring after 11 minutes when Baker barrelled his way over from close range. Davies and Josh Matavesi in the midfield axis were particularly enjoying themselves and another excellent pass from the fly-half allowed Cracknell to scamper across the whitewash. 

With the stand-off and the back-row linking up superbly, Connacht had no answer, and a third try was almost forthcoming when Justin Tipuric went over out wide, but the Wales international was correctly adjudged to be in touch. 

It meant the Irish province started the second half with just a 14-point deficit but that was soon extended via Davies' penalty. 

Pat Lam's team were being outplayed and, without their best player Bundee Aki on the field, lacked any sort of penetration. By contrast, their opponents were consistently making the gainline and it was therefore no surprise to see the Ospreys wrap up the win through Smith. 

All they required for a perfect afternoon's work was the bonus-point score but they had to wait as Davies was yellow carded and O'Brien went over. Despite still being down to 14, the hosts mounted one last attack and managed to get the full five points when Beck touched down.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Tries: Baker, Cracknell, Smith, Beck
Cons: Davies 3
Pen: Davies

For Connacht:
Try: O'Brien
Con: Cooney

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Dafydd Howells, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Hanno Dirksen, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Paul James, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Sam Underhill, 21 Brendon Leonard, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Kieron Fonotia

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O'Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Peter Robb, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 John Cooney, 8 Naulia Dawai, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 James Cannon, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 JP Cooney, 18 John Andress, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Danie Poolman, 23 Ciaran Gaffney

Referee: John Lacey (IRFU, 59th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Gary Conway (IRFU), Dewi Phillips (WRU)
TMO: Neil Paterson (SRU)