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Ospreys cling on for tense win

The Ospreys made it two Guinness Pro12 victories in successive weekends but they came close to losing in the Welsh derby at Newport Gwent Dragons.

Wing Eli Walker and scrum-half Rhys Webb grabbed tries for the Ospreys, with fly-half Dan Biggar kicking a penalty and two conversions.

The Dragons had a penalty from fly-half Jason Tovey and four from his second-half replacement Angus O'Brien - who narrowly missed with a late drop-goal attempt which would have won the match.

The Ospreys' captain for the night Lloyd Peers pulled out with injury before kick-off. In came Wales star Alun-Wyn Jones to start his new season and also take over the leadership reigns.

The Ospreys topped the table after a comfortable first league game at home to Benetton Treviso last week but were in no doubt that the first Welsh derby of the new Pro12 season, against a re-designed Dragons under ex-Ospreys coach Lyn Jones, would be a much sterner test.

And it proved to be just that as both sides looked to gain the early advantage in an intense and exciting match.

A dream scrummage for the Dragons that saw former Leicester loose-head Boris Stankovich pile-drive Ospreys tight-head Aaron Jarvis backwards gave the Gwent side a penalty from 25 metres that Tovey booted.

The Ospreys then had the Dragons on their own line at an attacking scrum with a chance to go over but another big shove from the home team saw Ospreys number eight Dan Baker knock-on as he tried to pick up.

Dragons tight-head prop Lloyd Fairbrother and Ospreys loose-head Nicky Smith were sent to the sin-bin, while tempers boiled when ex-Ospreys lock Ian Gough gave Welsh cap Biggar a heavy push, leading to a penalty that Biggar kicked.

And the Ospreys went into the break ahead when Webb chipped over the head of home full-back Lee Byrne for Walker to race in and grab a try that Biggar converted from the touchline.

Tovey came off at half-time for 19-year-old O'Brien and the youngster nearly turned the match on its head towards the end.

O'Brien landed a penalty from 35 metres to reduce the arrears to 10-6 but the Ospreys began to click, especially through the number eight and half-back areas.

And their territorial advantage saw Webb grab an easy try when he saw a gap in the home defence 10 metres from the line and dived past the static defence to score under the posts, making Biggar's conversion simple.

O'Brien again reduced the deficit with a twenty-metre shot after the Opsreys infringed and the tide turned again when Walker, who was outstanding throughout the game, turned villain when he jumped up from the ground after receiving treatment to high-tackle home centre Tyler Morgan and earn himself 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

That could have been decisive as it left the Ospreys with 14 men for the last 10 minutes - and the Dragons tried their hardest to make the advantage pay.

O'Brien kicked two more penalties to draw the Dragons back to two points behind and tried to land a winning drop-goal from 40 metres with seconds to go, but agonisingly saw it drift left to the relief of the Ospreys.


From Belfast Telegraph