RaboDirect PRO12: Ospreys consolitate play-off spot after beating Cardiff
Ospreys kept alive their hopes of retaining the RaboDirect PRO12 title with a battling 23-16 win over the Cardiff Blues.
Last Updated: 30/03/13 8:00pm
Having seen the Scarlets surprisingly miss out on a bonus point against the lowly Dragons in the first match of this Millennium Stadium double-header, the Ospreys knew a win would consolidate their position in the play-offs.
However, it was not that straightforward as the Blues went ahead with a superbly constructed try.
The ball was spread along the line for skipper Gavin Evans to burst down the left touchline, feed inside to Harry Robinson and watch as the recent Six Nations Player of the Tournament, Leigh Halfpenny, raced in for a touchdown he then converted from wide out.
Halfpenny's Wales colleague Dan Biggar pulled back three points with a close-range penalty, but missed from the halfway line after the Blues' suspect scrum had offended under pressure.
There was a further blow for the Ospreys when they lost international lock Ian Evans to a leg injury, but within a minute they had taken the lead. Flanker James King burst through a gap to speed over on the left, Biggar converting.
Halfpenny slotted another penalty to level the scores, but the Blues were again pinged at the scrum and this time Biggar made no mistake. And within a minute the visitors - it was officially a Blues home game - scored their second try.
Number eight Jonathan Thomas sent Justin Tipuric surging down the right touchline and, although Halfpenny bravely stopped his gallop, the ball was moved left. Full-back Richard Fussell and centre Ashley Beck freed Jonathan Spratt, who was able to touch down despite a desperate last-ditch attempted tackle by Rhys Patchell. Biggar added the extras.
The Ospreys opened the second half with a period of steady pressure, but the Blues' defence survived and they moved downfield for Halfpenny to cut the deficit with a well-struck penalty. He added another from almost the same spot, before Biggar, inexplicably, missed an easy kick at the other end.
A Biggar cross-kick was acrobatically won by Lions captaincy candidate Alun Wyn Jones, who fed Spratt, but the Ospreys knocked on and the opportunity was lost.
The Blues conceded a penalty at the scrum, but the Ospreys opted for a reset rather than take the easy kick, a decision proved wrong when Biggar, having a mixed game, failed to gather a pass and possession was lost.
When the situation was repeated, the Ospreys played it safe and Biggar duly claimed the three points. It proved enough to secure the spoils.