Connacht 6-17 Ospreys, RaboDirect PRO12
Ospreys battle past Connacht
November 26, 2011
Ospreys fly-half Matthew Morgan had a terrific game in Galway
© Getty Images
The Ospreys claimed their first victory in three RaboDirect PRO12 outings with a hard-earned 17-6 victory over Connacht at the Sportsground on Saturday evening.
Havine been displaced at the summit of the standings following Leinster's win in Treviso earlier in the day, the Ospreys returned to the summit courtesy of a virtuoso display from fly-half Matthew Morgan, who scored a try, two conversions and two penalties. Replacement Sonny Parker scored the visitors' other touchdown.
Connacht, meanwhile, registered just two penalties from No.10 Miah Nikora as they slumped to their seventh successive defeat in all competitions.
Despite missing 18 players due to international duty and injuries, the Ospreys still proved too strong for the industrious but predictable home side.
The region forced the early pace, with Tommy Bowe and Richard Fussell probing for openings in midfield. Connacht's defence was unyielding and typified by man-and-ball tackles from David McSharry and Brian Tuohy.
Connacht steadily found their feet in attack and Paul O'Donohoe just knocked on as he tried to make it over in the left corner under pressure from Rhys Webb and Richard Hibbard. Moments earlier, Nikora had misjudged the strong wind when looking to open the scoring from a left-sided penalty.
The deadlock was broken in the 16th minute when Nikora punished league debutant Chauncey O'Toole for a ruck offence. David Gannon was penalised for a similar infringement four minutes later, and Morgan's driven effort from close range split the posts.
With seven minutes left before half-time, Webb blitzed past Brett Wilkinson and up into the Connacht 22, offloading for Morgan to brilliantly dance around Gavin Duffy and race in behind the posts.
He comfortably converted his own try and although Nikora replied shortly afterwards, Hibbard fumbled a pass out wide when the Ospreys looked set to add a second try late on.
The visitors' scrum was growing in influence with prop Duncan Jones, celebrating his 150th appearance for the region, putting Rodney Ah You under a good deal of pressure.
Connacht were the aggressors when the second half got under way, a series of penalties getting them into try-scoring range before Ian Gough was yellow carded after infringing at a maul. But Eric Elwood's men had nothing to show for their period of dominance and Morgan failed with a long range penalty as the Ospreys finally got out of their own half.
It took a charging run from man of the match Jones to ignite their attack and when play was switched back into midfield, Andrew Bishop and Fussell unlocked the home defence for replacement Parker to stride in behind the posts.
Morgan converted and the Welshmen frustrated Connacht in their 22 before Duffy had to come to his side's rescue, bringing down Hanno Dirksen as the Ospreys replacement blew a glorious chance to set up a late try.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.