Pro14: Ospreys 29-28 Cardiff Blues
|Ospreys (17) 29|
|Tries: Hassler, Webb 2, Tipuric Cons: Biggar 3 Pens: Biggar|
|Cardiff Blues (14) 28|
|Tries: N Williams, Lane, Smith Cons: Anscombe 2 Pens: Anscombe 3|
Wales fly-half Dan Biggar guided Ospreys to a bonus-point win as they held on against Cardiff Blues in an enthralling Pro14 Welsh derby.
Biggar's attacking kicks set up Rhys Webb's two tries and another for Justin Tipuric as Ospreys rose off the bottom of Conference A.
Nick Williams' early try gave Blues the initiative, but Jeff Hassler's intercept try began Ospreys' fightback.
Owen Lane and Garyn Smith hit back late as Blues earned a losing bonus point.
Ospreys ended the day sixth, four points behind Blues.
Blues fly-half Gareth Anscombe kicked 11 points after a pre-match reshuffle saw him start at 10 instead of full-back, after Jarrod Evans dropped out because of illness.
But Biggar's kicking out of hand - as well as three conversions and a penalty - proved decisive.
Ospreys were without back-row Dan Lydiate because of a serious bicep injury, while Cory Allen and Paul James were also out.
Anscombe's switch from fly-half meant Matthew Morgan coming in at 15, with Steven Shingler filling the gap on the bench.
Wales wing Alex Cuthbert returned from injury off the bench in Blues' defeat by Scarlets and started in Swansea.
Anscombe's early penalty was followed by the game's opening try after centre Rey Lee-Lo's break gave Blues a foothold in the home 22, where Williams followed up Josh Navidi's charge to the line to score.
Hassler intercepted off Morgan to race 50 metres to score despite Cuthbert's desperate attempt to stop him and Biggar added the extras.
After Anscombe's second penalty, the hosts took the lead for the first time.
Biggar chipped ahead and in one slick movement gathered and passed to the on-rushing Webb, whose momentum to the line was unstoppable.
The Ospreys fly-half converted but Anscombe - one of Biggar's rivals for the Wales fly-half shirt - levelled with his third penalty, but Ospreys were ahead at the break thanks to the home 10's first penalty.
Wales lock Jones' Head Injury Assessment
Biggar put Ashley Beck into space with another clever kick and after Tipuric's intervention, Webb went clear.
There was a worry for the home side - and perhaps Wales as the Six Nations approaches - after lock Alun Wyn Jones fell heavily at a line-out before departing soon after for a Head Injury Assessment.
Cuthbert joined him on the sidelines, albeit for a yellow card as he illegally halted an Ospreys attack.
Biggar took immediate advantage as Tipuric called for the cross-kick that he gathered to score.
Wales centre Watkin off on stretcher
Blues rekindled their attacking panache, finished by powerful wing Lane for Anscombe to convert.
Replacement centre Smith finished off a counter-attack for Anscombe to again convert, bringing the visitors back to within a point after being 29-14 down.
But Ospreys held out against the visitors' frantic late attacks after home centre Owen Watkin, a Wales international, left the fray on a stretcher because of a combined head and neck injury.
He was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure, but later released and Chris Towers, Ospreys' medical performance manager, confirmed Watkin had "no structural damage".
Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy said: "Alun, we think, is okay it's a head injury."
He added: "I thought Dan Biggar's attack kicking was excellent. We knew we'd worked hard on some of the cross-field kicks and the dinks, but Biggs does it better than anyone and fair play, he delivered in abundance.
"There were a couple of really good tries out there. We'd have liked a few more."
Blues head coach Danny Wilson said: "First half we played reasonably well and gave ourselves an opportunity.
"For 25 minutes after half time I thought we were poor. Ospreys owned field position, possession and we were just constantly defending and couldn't put a foot right, if I'm honest, for 25 minutes and I think that took its toll.
"And then we go up the other end and score two tries and get ourselves back in the game. I'm proud of the effort to do that.
"Brutal honesty - if we had won it, it would not have reflected the game."
Ospreys: Sam Davies; Dan Evans, Ashley Beck, Owen Watkin, Jeff Hassler; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Nicky Smith, Scott Baldwin, Ma'afu Fia, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Olly Cracknell, Justin Tipuric, Rob McCusker.
Replacements: Scott Otten, Gareth Thomas, Dmitri Arhip, Adam Beard, Will Jones, Tom Habberfield, James Hook, Dafydd Howells.
Blues: Mathew Morgan; Alex Cuthbert, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Owen Lane; Gareth Anscombe, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Gill, Kristian Dacey (capt), Anton Peikrishvili, Damian Welch, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Olly Robinson, Nick Williams.
Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Gethin Jenkins, Dillon Lewis, George Earle, Ellis Jenkins, Tomos Williams, Garyn Smith, Steven Shingler.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Dan Jones and Adam Jones (Both Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)
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