Pro12: Ospreys 29-7 Connacht

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Pro12 highlights: Ospreys 29-7 Connacht
Guinness Pro12: Ospreys v Connacht
Ospreys (14) 29 Tries: Baker, Cracknell, Smith, Beck Cons: Davies 3 Pens: Davies
Connacht (0) 7 Tries: O'Brien Cons: Cooney

Ospreys climbed to the top of the Pro12 with a convincing bonus-point win over reigning champions Connacht.

The hosts made a flying start, with Dan Baker and Olly Cracknell scoring excellent team tries to give them a commanding 14-0 half-time lead.

Prop Nicky Smith powered over for a third try, before Sean O'Brien earned Connacht a late consolation score.

Even with fly-half Sam Davies in the sin-bin, Ospreys sealed the bonus point with Ashley Beck's last-minute try.

That gave Steve Tandy's men a Pro12 double over Connacht for the season, and added a final gloss to their eighth successive victory in all competitions.

Olly Cracknell
Ospreys try-scorer Olly Cracknell was named man of the match in the New Year's Day win at Newport Gwent Dragons

Starting the game in third place and two points behind leaders Munster, Ospreys blew Connacht away with a high-octane first quarter.

The home side attacked with purpose and pace, fly-half Davies setting the tempo and the forwards carrying powerfully.

It was that combination which paved the way for the opening score, as Davies' perfectly-timed flat pass allowed flanker Cracknell to gallop deep into Connacht's half.

Ospreys maintained that momentum with a slick sequence of phases, and number eight Baker was on hand to plunge over from close range.

They had a second try with just 15 minutes gone, with Cracknell picking another fine angle and accelerating clear to touch down.

Davies in the sin-bin

After encountering a little more Connacht resistance in the second half, Ospreys scored their third try as Smith wrestled his way over.

They were already 24-0 up when Davies was shown a yellow card for a high tackle on John Cooney, rendering O'Brien's score from a turnover a mere consolation for the visitors.

Ospreys' confounded their numerical disadvantage to score their bonus point-securing fourth try with the final play of the game, as Beck squeezed over in the corner.

Ospreys: Dan Evans; Dafydd Howells, Ashley Beck, Josh Matavesi, Hanno Dirksen; Sam Davies, Tom Habberfield; Nicky Smith, Sam Parry, Ma'afu Fia, Lloyd Ashley, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Olly Cracknell, Justin Tipuric, Dan Baker.

Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Paul James, Rhodri Jones, Adam Beard, Sam Underhill, Brendon Leonard, Dan Biggar, Kieron Fonotia.

Connacht: Tiernan O'Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Rory Parata, Peter Robb, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, John Cooney; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Quinn Roux, James Cannon, Sean O'Brien, Jake Heenan, Naulia Dawai

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, JP Cooney, John Andress, Lewis Stevenson, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Danie Poolman, Ciaran Gaffney

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)

Assistant referees: Gary Conway (Ireland), Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

TMO: Neil Paterson (Scotland)

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