Ulster run Ospreys ragged

Date published: May 7 2016

Ulster impressed with a 46-26 win over the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium as they prepare to travel in the play-offs.

Three first-half tries from Paddy Jackson, Rory Best and Andrew Trimble put the visitors on the front foot, before Chris Henry, Stuart Olding and Franco van der Merwe added to the scoring in Swansea. 

Ospreys hit back through Dan Biggar, Josh Matavesi and Tom Grabham, but were unable to prevent Ulster securing fourth spot. 

The hosts opened the scoring as James King broke from the back of a five-metre scrum, before the ball was shipped to Biggar who strolled under the posts, making his conversion a formality. 

Jared Payne was set free by Ruan Pienaar, who in turn found Jackson running an excellent line inside to carry over, before converting it himself and levelling the scores. 

Best then put Ulster ahead just before the half-hour mark, demonstrating excellent footwork to step inside and power his way to the try line. Jackson added the extras. 

Shortly before the break, Matavesi threw a clever dummy pass to see his way past try-scorer Best, before reaching for the line at arms length, allowing Biggar to level the scores once more. 

Trimble was next over the line as he collected his own kick after a fortunate bounce, before showing a great turn of pace to slide over the whitewash for Ulster’s third try. Jackson’ sent the conversion through off the posts with the final kick of the half, as the teams went in with Ospreys trailing by 14-21. 

After a lull in play, some quick thinking from Henry saw him get to the ball at the back of an Ospreys ruck on their own try line, before the TMO confirmed the score. 

The referee interrupted Jackson’'s kicking routine as he went back to double check with the TMO, before he eventually slotted the kick. Soon after, the Jackson slotted a penalty to extend their lead. 

As Opsreys looked for an unlikely way back in to the game, Grabham latched on to a long, sweeping pass for Sam Davies to score in the corner under the challenge of Craig Gilroy. Biggar missed the conversion, meaning Ulster maintained a 34-19 lead.

Ulster put in a strong scrum on 22 metres, before some excellent footwork from Olding saw him step past the Ospreys defence and score under the posts, allowing Jackson to convert once more. 

A rare defensive error from Ulster allowed Grabham in to score his second try of the game on the right wing, before Biggar’'s conversion from the touchline took the score to 41-26. 

A frantic end to the game saw Ulster immediately hit back through van der Merwe, as he powered his way to the try line, but Jackson failed to add the extras from the tee.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Tries: Biggar, Matavesi, Grabham 2
Cons: Biggar 3

For Ulster:
Tries: Jackson, Best, Trimble, Henry, Olding, Van der Merwe
Cons: Jackson 5
Pens: Jackson 2

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Ben John, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar  9 Rhys Webb (c), 8 James King, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Joe Bearman, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Brendon Leonard, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Tom Grabham

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Sean Reidy, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Pete Browne, 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Callum Black
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Andrew Warwick, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Stuart Olding, 23 Darren Cave

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)