Northampton 32-43 Ospreys: Welsh region resist Saints' remarkable fightback at Franklin's Gardens
Last Updated: 09/12/17 9:38pm
Ospreys resisted an incredible fightback from Northampton to claim a 43-32 victory at Franklin's Gardens in the Champions Cup on Saturday.
Northampton were 3-0 up at the end of the first quarter thanks to a Stephen Myler penalty, but after that it was the Ospreys show as the visitors piled on 17 unanswered points to go into the break 17-3 ahead - with 10 of those points coming with 14 men on the field, after Jeff Hassler was shown a yellow card following repeated team infringements.
In the second half, things went from bad to worse for the home side as tries from Hassler (2), Dan Evans and Kieron Fonotia put the visitors 43-8 in front, with Dylan Hartley offering a solitary try in response.
However, Northampton then launched a remarkable comeback, with Nic Groom, Rob Horne, Ahsee Tuala and Harry Mallinder all dotting down to take the home side to within 11 points of their visitors.
Mallinder's score sparked a melee, for which the Northampton man and Ospreys' Rob McCusker were sent to the bin, and Ospreys finished the game with 13 men when Hanno Dirksen was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle on JP Estelles, but the Welshmen were able to close the game out to hang on for a win that keeps their European ambitions alive.
Myler, brought on early after Piers Francis suffered a head injury, initially put Saints ahead with a simple kick from in front of the posts.
Ospreys wing Hassler was then yellow carded during the opening exchanges, but the away side immediately levelled the scores via a Davies penalty.
Northampton then lost a second fly-half to injury, with Myler forced off and Mallinder moving from full-back to No 10, and things went further downhill for the hosts when Ospreys put together a tidy move that was finished by full-back Evans.
Ospreys were to score again before the break, with an even more impressive attack resulting in a try for Habberfield.
The Welsh outfit didn't have to wait long for their third score after the break as Hassler was set free down the left on 46 minutes. Davies kicked the conversion and he was doing so again soon after as Fonotia grabbed his team's bonus-point score.
Hartley finally gave the Saints supporters something to shout about, but Mallinder missed the conversion and Evans quickly scored Ospreys' fifth try. Davies converted again to make it 38-8 and there was seemingly no end to the torture as Hassler went over for his second.
Scrum-half Groom got a score back for Northampton, Horne got on the scoresheet, and the Saints had their bonus point when Tuala finished off a move that included a fine offload from Mallinder.
Tuala then returned the favour for the Saints' fifth score, offloading to Mallinder, who raced from halfway to score a superb try.
Mallinder and Ospreys replacement McCusker were sin-binned for their part in a brawl that followed the try, meaning Northampton had to hand the conversion to scrum-half Cobus Reinach, who hit the post.
Ospreys were reduced to 13 men before the end as Dirksen was red carded for a high tackle on Estelles, but the Welsh side saw the game out to deny Northampton a losing bonus point.