Pro12: Ospreys 26-15 Cardiff Blues

Ospreys put the Cardiff Blues try line under extreme pressure at the Liberty Stadium
Ospreys put the Cardiff Blues try line under extreme pressure at the Liberty Stadium
Ospreys (19) 26
Tries: D Evans, Webb
Cons: Biggar 2
Pens: Biggar 4
Blues (3) 15
Tries: L Williams, Dacey
Con: Patchell
Pen: Patchell

Ospreys maintained their 100% start to the Pro12 season and returned to the top of the table with victory over Cardiff Blues at the Liberty Stadium.

Full-back Dan Evans charged over for a try in the first half, with scrum-half Rhys Webb adding a second Ospreys score after the break from close range.

His half-back partner Dan Biggar kicked 16 points in a flawless display.

Blues restored some pride as replacements Lloyd Williams and Kristian Dacey scored late tries.

The visitors arrived in Swansea with an all-British and Irish Lions front row of Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees and Adam Jones, with tight-head Jones making his first return to his former region.

But it was the less heralded Ospreys unit of Nicky Smith, Scott Baldwin and Dmitri Arhip who held the early upper hand, shunting back their illustrious visitors at regular intervals.

Cardiff Blues captain Sam Warburton looks on after being sin-binned
Cardiff Blues captain Sam Warburton looks on after being sin-binned

That gave the home side a dominance that fly-half Biggar turned into points, slotting three penalties within the first 11 minutes.

Things got worse for Blues when skipper Sam Warburton came into a ruck from the side, the open-side flanker being shown a yellow card and gifting Biggar another three points.

Rhys Patchell got his side on the scoreboard with a fine kick from halfway to make it 12-3 after Andrew Bishop infringed.

But Ospreys hit back as they worked space on the left for Evans to go over, the full-back showing great strength to carry Blues defenders Adam Thomas and Alex Cuthbert over the line with him.

Biggar, showing no ill-effects from a heavy collision in last week's win over Zebre, continued his excellent kicking display by potting the conversion.

Ospreys could have added a second try before the break after creating an overlap, again down the left, but Alun Wyn Jones inadvertently got in the way to knock on.

Blues showed good steel after the restart to see off a couple of rolling mauls as Ospreys spurned a kickable penalty in favour of an attacking line-out.

But a defence-busting run by Jeff Hassler was taken on by Arhip to the brink of the Blues' line, allowing Webb to dab the ball down for a try through a pile of forwards' legs.

Cardiff Blues prop Adam Jones (right) made his first return to former side Ospreys
Cardiff Blues prop Adam Jones (right) made his first return to former side Ospreys

Biggar made it six kicks out of six with the conversion, taking Ospreys into a 26-3 lead.

Blues responded by producing their best spell of the match, the pack making some dents in the previously untroubled Ospreys defence and giving their backline space to work with.

But Ospreys soon reasserted their dominance and only Bishop dropping the ball prevented another home try after Josh Matavesi had released wing Hassler through the middle.

Three minutes from the end replacement Blues scrum-half Williams pinched a try, which was followed closely by hooker Dacey burrowing over.

That gave the final score in Swansea a gloss, but in truth the Blues had been well beaten.

Ospreys coach Steve Tandy said: "I'm pretty disappointed with the last half-hour in the game, we've had opportunities to score a few more tries and haven't taken them.

"To concede two tries at the end I'm bitterly disappointed, and where we are it shows we've got patches where we're getting a lot better as a team but that's the standards we're setting ourselves.

"We know we're not as good as some people are telling us we are at the minute and going into the Champions Cup campaign, if you perform like that against Northampton and Treviso you'll get punished."

Blues director of rugby Mark Hammett said: "A bit like last week, the last 15-20 minutes was pretty good and... at least we did get some points on and improve our game.

"From my perspective, [Warburton's sin-binning] wasn't a yellow card so that's disappointing for us and that's something the officials need to continue to work on to get right.

"We're still a long way from where we need to be; we're an attacking force when we get on the front foot and when we win position from set piece, but at the moment we probably haven't had enough of that."

TEAMS

Ospreys: Dan Evans; Jeff Hassler, Andrew Bishop, Josh Matavesi, Eli Walker; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Nicky Smith, Scott Baldwin, Dmitri Arhip, Lloyd Peers, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), James King, Sam Lewis, Dan Baker.

Replacements: Sam Parry, Duncan Jones, Aaron Jarvis, Joe Bearman, Morgan Allen, Martin Roberts, Sam Davies, Tom Grabham.

Cardiff Blues: Adam Thomas; Alex Cuthbert, Cory Allen, Gavin Evans, Geraint Walsh; Rhys Patchell, Lewis Jones; Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees (capt), Adam Jones, Jarrad Hoeata, Filo Paulo, Josh Turnbull, Sam Warburton, Josh Navidi

Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Sam Hobbs, Scott Andrews, Macauley Cook, Manoa Vosawai, Lloyd Williams, Gareth Davies, Dan Fish.

Referee: Leighton Hodges (WRU)

Assistant Referees: Sean Brickell, Gwyn Morris (both WRU)

Citing Commissioner: Dennis Jones (WRU)

TMO: Derek Bevan (WRU)

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