Dragons 21-20 Ospreys, RaboDirect PRO12
Dragons stun Ospreys
January 6, 2012
Fly-half Jason Tovey landed 11 points for the Dragons
© PA Photos
The Dragons upset the high-flying Ospreys with a 21-20 victory in an enthralling RaboDirect PRO12 clash at Rodney Parade.
Ospreys replacement Dan Biggar held his head in his hands as his last-gasp drop-goal to hit the post in a thrilling end to a great second half that was end-to-end stuff after a poor opening period. Two tries in as many minutes from home fullback Martyn Thomas and replacement centre Lewis Robling against one from Ospreys wing Tommy Bowe had the crowd on their feet. Dragons stand-off Jason Tovey booted 11 points, with Ospreys counterpart Matthew Morgan contributing five penalties for a 15 point haul.
The Dragons went into the break 9-6 ahead as Tovey, who had recovered from a miserable night against the Scarlets last week, landed three penalties against two from Morgan. But the game by then was only noteworthy for three yellow cards dished out by referee James Jones than for any threats on the try-line.
Former Wales international lock Ian Evans was the culprit for two of the Dragons' penalties as he lay offside at rucks on both occasions, the second earning him 10 minutes in the sin-bin. Tovey made sure of a second penalty when Ospreys captain Justin Tipuric was offside at a ruck before Morgan levelled with two penalties of his own.
Then, with just a few minutes to go before the end of a below par half, referee Jones handed out two more yellow cards. Home wing Tonderai Chavhanga earned himself 10 minutes on the sidelines for a deliberate knock-on and Ospreys flanker Tom Smith killed the ball when he did not need to, saw yellow, and heard the home crowd roar Tovey's third penalty success as the half ended.
However, where the first half was a squib, the second period was pulsating. It started with a bang after just 27 seconds when Ospreys full-back Barry Davies tried an ambitious 48-metre drop-goal which only just dropped under the home bar, TV official Gareth Simmonds having to make the crucial decision.
Then Ospreys centre Ashley Beck thundered down field from halfway, laid the ball off to Davies for Thomas to infringe and allow Morgan to level the game. But a double strike from the home side took them clear. A great multi-handed move, that criss-crossed the pitch, finished with wing Will Harries passing to Thomas on the right touchline, and the full-back cut inside to beat three defenders for the try.
Two minutes later, Morgan threw an innocuous pass to his centres only for Robling to intercept and race 48 metres under the posts, with Tovey converting easily. It put the Dragons 21-9 ahead and in the driving seat. But urged on by their animated coach Scott Johnson on the side, the Ospreys dug in and gave themselves a chance of taking the honours at the death.
Morgan added two penalties and, with 16 minutes still to go, the visitors were back within a converted try of victory. And they grabbed a thumping score which involved centres Tom Isaacs and Beck to set Irish wing Tommy Bowe in at the corner. However, the Dragons could have had very valid arguments for two forward passes in the movement.
Biggar missed the crucial conversion from wide out and that was to become massively significant as the Dragons led by a single point.
It all boiled down to Biggar's attempt at a grand finale but, with the ball struck exceptionally well, the fly-half could not believe it when it hit an upright, bounced clear and the Dragons hoofed the ball into touch to claim their breathless win and keep a four-year winning streak at Rodney Parade over the Ospreys intact.
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