Champions Cup: Ospreys 19-19 Racing Metro

Racing Metro lock Francois van der Merwe forced his way over for the game's first try
Racing Metro lock Francois van der Merwe forced his way over for the game's first try
Ospreys (6) 19
Tries: Matavesi Cons: Biggar Pens: Biggar 4
Racing Metro (16) 19
Tries: Van der Merwe Cons: Goosen Pens: Goosen 3 DG: Goosen

Josh Matavesi's late try rescued a draw for Ospreys in their European Champions Cup game at home to Racing Metro.

The French visitors led 16-6 at half-time thanks to Francois van der Merwe's try and the kicking of Johan Goosen.

Fly-half Dan Biggar kept Ospreys in touch by kicking four penalties, but when Goosen dropped a goal it seemed to have clinched a Racing win.

However Justin Tipuric's late blistering break let centre Matavesi go under the posts and Biggar converted.

The draw means Ospreys are just three points behind Racing and Northampton, who won 38-15 in Treviso, with both the English and French clubs sitting on 10 points at the top of Pool 5.

But the Welsh region must realistically win the return game with Racing in Le Mans next week to keep their qualification hopes alive.

Racing took an early grip on the game and Goosen converted that pressure into two penalties for the visiting side, although Biggar replied with one for the home side.

Ospreys had international front rows Ryan Bevington, Duncan Jones and Nicky Smith all on a lengthy injury list and Racing had the home scrum creaking.

But the Welsh region did have Wales half-backs Biggar and Rhys Webb, plus forwards Scott Baldwin, Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric available after the autumn Tests.

Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips started for Racing against his countrymen
Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips started for Racing against his countrymen

Racing started with just one of the four Welsh players on their books, Mike Phillips lining up opposite Webb, the man who took his Wales scrum-half berth during November.

Lock Luke Charteris was on the bench while Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate - whose return to play in Wales is expected soon - were not included in the match-day squad.

Goosen was controlling things wonderfully from fly-half for Racing and along with his South African compatriot Van der Merwe they were having the biggest impact on the game.

The No.10 hit a half-gap in the Ospreys line, sucking in defenders and creating space on the right for Van der Merwe to score, with the huge lock carrying Dan Evans and Dmitri Arhip over the line with him for a converted try.

The struggling Ospreys were put under further pressure when James King was sin-binned for pulling down a maul, allowing Goosen to add a third penalty.

Ospreys' scoring chances were few and far between but Biggar made the most of a rare opportunity with his second penalty kick to trim Racing's lead to 16-6 at half-time.

But the fly-half's accuracy deserted him after the restart as he hit the post with what for the Wales star was a comfortable penalty kick after good work from the Ospreys scrum.

Another scoring chance went begging when Webb made a trademark break around the fringe and chipped ahead, only for Racing wing Adrien Planté to reach the ball just ahead of Eli Walker.

Ospreys kept Racing pinned in their 22 though, earning another penalty that Biggar this time converted.

That sparked Ospreys' best spell of the game but despite the home side's raised tempo, each attack was met by resolute Racing tackling.

A fourth Biggar penalty brought Ospreys back to 12-16, but Goosen then kicked a drop-goal with seven minutes remaining after failing with an ambitious earlier effort and hitting the post with a penalty.

However Ospreys hit back immediately as flanker Tipuric burst through on the left before finding Webb in support, who in turn fed centre Matavesi to go under the posts.

Biggar's conversion levelled the score, although the Ospreys had to survive two more nervous moments as Goosen skewed a penalty and was just short with a long drop-goal.

Teams:

Ospreys: Dan Evans; Tom Grabham, Ashley Beck, Josh Matavesi, Eli Walker; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Marc Thomas, Scott Baldwin, Dmitri Arhip; Lloyd Peers, Alun Wyn Jones (capt); James King, Justin Tipuric, Tyler Ardron.

Replacements: Sam Parry, Gareth Thomas, Daniel Suter, Rynier Bernardo, Sam Lewis, Martin Roberts, Sam Davies, Hanno Dirksen.

Racing Metro: Benjamin Lapeyre; Adrien Planté, Casey Laulala, Alexandre Dumoulin, Marc Andreu; Johannes Goosen, Mike Phillips; Eddy Ben Arous, Dimitri Szarzewski (capt), Luc Ducalcon; Juandre Kruger, Francois van der Merwe; Wenceslas Lauret, Bernard Le Roux, Antonie Claassen.

Replacements: Virgile Lacombe, Julien Brugnaut, Walter Desmaison, Luke Charteris, Camille Gerondeau, Maxime Machenaud, Yoan Audrin, Benjamin Dambielle.

Referee: JP Doyle (England)

Touch Judges: Andrew Small (England), Andrew Pearce (England)

Fourth Official: Graham Hughes (England)

TMO: Sean Davey (England)

Citing Commissioner: Gordon Black (Ireland)

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