Ospreys (19) 19
Tries: Walsh, Nagy, K Williams Cons: Walsh (2)
Sharks (5) 5
Having trailed early to Phepsi Burthelezi’s early try for the South Africans, the Welsh region roared level after sustained pressure saw fly-half Jack Walsh score from close range.
Replacement winger Max Nagy then would benefit turning the tide in the Ospreys direction, charging down and sprinting clear after a misplaced kick had been intercepted, before Keiran Williams would punish the error-strewn Sharks from close range before the break with a third score.
The second period would be more about the improving defensive qualities of Toby Booth’s side with the Ospreys holding firm at crucial times to gain an impressive victory. The South Africans falling short in the offensive third lacking conviction and would fail to add to the scoreline.
The Ospreys came into the match looking to build on their 34-31 victory against Zebre last weekend where a strong second-half showing earned Booth’s side a bonus point victory.
The head-coach would choose to make four changes to his starting lineup with his hand forced with injury, whilst several players including captain Justin Tipuric would be missing through involvement in Wales’ test match against the Barbarians tomorrow afternoon.
Toby Fricker would be handed a debut on the wing, there would be a start for centre Keiran Williams, whilst forwards Harri Deaves and James Fender would be given opportunities.
The visiting Sharks travelled from South Africa with a point to prove having lost both of their opening URC encounters to Irish opposition Muster and Leinster. Ex-Swansea coach John Plumtree looking for his first taste of victory in his second spell in charge of the region after a spell as New Zealand assistant coach.
It would be the South Africans who would start the brighter taking the lead in the opening minutes.
A sharp pacey counter attack presented a three-on-one scenario following a flowing Sharks breakaway move that would see captain Burthelezi joining the attack to go over in the corner.
Ill-discipline though from the Sharks would allow the Ospreys a chance for a swift response. A series of infringements would be punished with a driving lineup routine, seeing Lewis thinking he had come away with the try. TMO intervention however would disallow the score.
Parked deep inside the Sharks twenty-two for several minutes, the pressure would finally tell though as the Ospreys would level the scoreline with Owen Watkin spreading the ball wide after several phases of play had seen the Ospreys come metres short. Fly-half Walsh the beneficiary jinking past a challenge to score.
In dramatic fashion, the Ospreys would take the lead midway through the half. Replacement Nagy charging down van Rensburg’s kick to gather and sprint clear from the halfway line to loud cheers from the travelling Welsh support.
The Sharks miserable half went from bad to worse losing van Rensburg to the sin bin minutes before the interval and were further punished by Keiran Williams try moments later.
A comedy of errors finishing with Dyantyi fumbling a chipped ball through on the try line allowing the Ospreys chasing centre to take full advantage to score and further extend the Welsh regions lead at the break.
The Sharks improved after the break and would be dominant in possession in the opening period but would fail to turn possession into points.
The Ospreys, growing in confidence, would defend resolutely under heavy pressure in their own twenty-two to stem the flow of attack on several occasions as the Sharks would be wasteful and error-strewn.
Hardworking in the tackle the Welsh region would hold firm as the clock would count down and almost found a fourth try with debutant Fricker going close. It would be no bonus point for Booth’s side though, but an impressive victory nevertheless to see the Ospreys continue momentum.
Ospreys XV: Walsh, L Morgan, K Williams (Scully 78), Watkin, Fricker, O Williams (Nagy 19), Morgan-Williams (Davies 78), Morris (captain), Deaves (Morse 53), Ratti, Fender, R Davies (Jones 78), Botha (Warren 60), Lewis (Lloyd 64), Phillips (Henry 53).
Sharks XV: Fassi, Kok, Venter (captain) (Koster 62), van Rensburg, Dyantyi, Bosch (Chamberlain 62), Wright, Notshe (Cronje 60), Burthelezi, Venter, van Heerden (Andrews 66), Rahl, Oosthuizen (Jacobs 57), Richardson (van Vuuren 57), Mchunu (Bleuler 57).
[Lead image: Ospreys Rugby]
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