Pro14: Ospreys 39-10 Connacht

By Ceri Coleman-PhillipsBBC Sport Wales
Jeff Hassler diving over for a try
Ospreys wing Jeff Hassler ran the length of the pitch to score Ospreys' first try
Guinness Pro14
Ospreys (20) 39
Tries: Hassler, Evans, Otten, Beck, Dirksen Cons: Biggar 4 Pens: Biggar 2
Connacht (10) 10
Tries: Ronaldson Cons: Ronaldson, Pen: Carty

Ospreys boosted their chances of Champions Cup qualification with a 39-10 bonus-point win over Connacht.

Jeff Hassler ran the length of the field to score the first of Ospreys' five tries, while Dan Evans crossed soon after returning from the sin bin.

Craig Ronaldson kept the visitors in touch by converting his own try.

Scott Otten, Ashley Beck and Hanno Dirksen also got on the score sheet, with Dan Biggar adding 14 points with his boot.

Biggar, who made his final appearance in front of an 8,000 crowd at the Liberty Stadium before joining Northampton Saints at the end of the season, kicked two penalties inside the first 10 minutes.

But Ospreys were dealt a blow soon after when Evans, who scored twice in the bonus-point win over Leinster last month, was judged to have deliberately knocked on a ball destined for Connacht wing Niyi Adeolokun.

Referee Ben Whitehouse initially thought the full-back made an attempt to go for the ball with two hands, but went to his pocket for a yellow after consulting the TMO.

Dan Evans
Full-back Dan Evans scored a try after coming out of the sin bin

Connacht, who made five changes to the forward pack that started their European Challenge Cup defeat by Gloucester, looked dangerous in attack and tested Ospreys' defence.

But a loose pass allowed wing Hassler to intercept near his own try line and run the length of the field to score under the posts against the run of play.

Ospreys came close to scoring again after a break from flanker Sam Cross, who continued to impress after making the transition from sevens to 15s rugby.

Connacht took advantage of the extra man shortly after 20 minutes when Ronaldson, who had only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes, took a pass from Jarrad Butler and avoided an injured player to score.

Fresh from 10 minutes in the bin, Evans got back on the score sheet for Ospreys' second try after running a good line off Biggar, whose boot was again on target for the extras.

Jacky Carty pulled Connacht back to within two scores with a penalty before the break.

Ospreys edged towards the bonus point when hooker Otten drove the ball over after Biggar's tap-and-go saw him fall short of the line. The TMO was consulted and concluded there was no reason not to award the try.

Beck, also departing at the end of the season for Worcester Warriors, finished off a training ground line-out move on the hour mark to ensure the maximum five points for Ospreys.

Scrum-half Tom Habberfield looked to have scored soon after, but TMO replays showed Hassler's offload was inches forward.

A fifth try was added by Dirksen after a succession of quick hands created an overlap.

Dan Biggar signing autographs
Biggar said the fans have always stuck by the players through high times and low times

Speaking to S4C after the game, man-of-the-match Biggar said it was "a little bit strange" playing his last home game after "a great 10 years" at the Liberty.

"The stadium has been so good to me... it's been the best place for me to play rugby and the fans have always stuck by us," he said.

"It's going to be very sad not coming here any more to play.

"I hope in time I can come back and do a little bit more for the region."

Ospreys: Dan Evans; Jeff Hassler, Kieron Fonotia, Ashley Beck, Hanno Dirksen, Dan Biggar, Tom Habberfield; Nicky Smith, Scott Otten, Dmitri Arhip, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Guy Mercer, Sam Cross, James King.

Replacements: Ifan Phillips, Rhodri Jones, Ma'afu Fia, Adam Beard, Morgan Morris, Matthew Aubrey, Sam Davies, Owen Watkin.

Connacht: Tiernan O'Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Sean O'Brien, Jarrad Butler (capt), Eoin McKeon.

Replacements:Dave Heffernan, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Gavin Thornbury, John Muldoon, Caolin Blade, Craig Ronaldson, Darragh Leader.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse.