Connacht 26 Ospreys 19
Lions-bound Bundee Aki bagged a try as Connacht signed off on their season with a bonus-point win at the Sportsground.
Shane Delahunt marked his 100th Connacht cap with the game’s first try, while Aki, Ultan Dillane and Peter Sullivan crossed before the interval for the home side, who waved goodbye to long-serving coaches Jimmy Duffy and Nigel Carolan with victory in a cracking encounter.
After leading the team out onto the field it was fitting to see hooker Delahunt open the scoring off the back of an eighth-minute driving lineout. Seconds earlier, Connacht had broken from near their own line to within touching distance of Ospreys’, but the move launched by Ben O’Donnell ended when Rhys Webb deliberately knocked on after Caolin Blade’s mazy run, which earned the Ospreys scrum-half 10 minutes in the sin-bin.
After Delahunt struck immediately, Jack Carty’s touchline conversion put Connacht 7-0 ahead.
Despite being down a man, Ospreys replied with a strong few minutes, and a mauled lineout eventually produced a 14th-minute try for Morgan Morris.
From the restart, Connacht hit their target immediately and Aki gathered the loose kick, and after a couple of quick phases, the Lions tourist touched down his fourth Connacht try of the season.
A strong counter-ruck from Aki set Connacht on the road to another try after 22 minutes, which saw Dillane power over. Carty’s conversion made it 21-5.
The tries continued to flow as Ospreys pressed copy and paste on their first effort, this time Parry was the recipient of the driving lineout try 15 minutes from the break.
Connacht’s fourth try of the night was off the training ground, a first-phase scrum move finished off in the corner by Sullivan.
Parry bagged Ospreys’ third try in the 48th minute of the first half, which left Connacht 26-19 clear at the interval.
The Connacht line led a charmed existence around the hour mark, but a couple of strong defensive mauls saw Ospreys leave without reward and neither side could add to their first-half tallies.
√ Richard Cockerill hopes the return of his big hitters can help Edinburgh bow out at Murrayfield on a high.
The capital outfit welcome back Scotland stars Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Ben Toolis and Duhan Van der Merwe for toay’s Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup encounter against Ulster.
The match will be the final time the club play at the national stadium before switching to a smaller 8,000-capacity venue built next door.
Cockerill said: “We’re pleased to welcome the return of some quality, experienced players alongside some exciting young talent for our final match at BT Murrayfield.
“Ulster are a quality and consistent opponent.
“They’ve shown that throughout this season’s Guinness PRO14 competitions, so we’re under no illusions how hard we’re going to have to work, and we’re going to have to play, if we’re to come away with the result.”