PRO14 RUGBY: (Match Report) – OSPREYS 39-10 CONNACHT 

06.04.18 - Ospreys v Connacht - GuinnessPro14 - Hanno Dirksen of Ospreys scores a try

If they were on the ropes following their Challenge Cup exit to Gloucester six days earlier, Connacht’s season definitely finished last Friday (6th April) as they faded during the second half against a resurgent Ospreys. 

After pushing Cardiff Blues for an automatic Champions Cup spot for most of the year, they needed victory to keep a play-off spot alive as their Gloucester loss closed the route through that avenue.

They suffered their fourth consecutive loss against a team on a roll since their 26-15 reversal in the Sportsground in February.  New coach Allen Clarke has overseen an undefeated streak since including bonus point wins over Leinster and Connacht.

While their poor season start ultimately caught up with Connacht, Kieran Keane will need to seriously look at how his side have crumbled since Christmas.  And questions must be asked why Irish international Bundee Aki was on holiday in Lanzorate just three weeks before regular fixtures conclude.

Connacht made five changes but in contrast, Ospreys only made two enforced.  And their focus was evident as Dan Biggar kicked two penalties in the opening 10 minutes.

However, when Dan Evans received a sinbin for the hosts in the Liberty Stadium, Connacht were gifted an opportunity but could only watch as Jeff Hassler ran the length of the field for an Ospreys try.  Biggar converted to make it 13-0.

Craig Ronaldson did get in for a Connacht try and conversion as Jack Carty went through a concussion test.  Carty did add three points upon his return but Evans, fresh from his 10-minute removal, got the second Ospreys try as they led 20-10 at half-time.

There was nothing left in Connacht as Ospreys ran in three second half tries through Scott Otten, Ashley Beck and Hanno Dirksen.  And they also had another from Tom Habberfield disallowed for a forward pass.  The Welsh team got the bonus point and move six points clear of Connacht with a game in hand.

It takes time for a new coach to implement his style and Keane won’t be fully assessed until next season.  But, like any supporters who made the trip across the Irish Sea, he’ll be desperately disappointed how Connacht’s challenges have ended tamely.

Teams – 

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Peter Robb, Matt Healy; Jack Carty (3 – penalty), Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Conor Carey; Ultan Dillane, James Cannon; Sean O’Brien, Jarrad Butler, Eoin McKeon.  Subs used: John Muldoon for O’Brien (22 mins), Caolin Blade for Marmion (53 mins), Craig Ronaldson (7 – try, conversion) for Carty (53 mins), Dave Heffernan for Delahunt (61 mins), Dominic Robertson-McCory for Carey (61 mins), Darragh Leader for Adeolokun (65 mins), Peter McCabe for Buckley (67 mins), Gavin Thornbury for Cannon (67 mins).

Ospreys: Dan Evans (5 – try); Jeff Hassler (5 – try), Kieron Fonotia, Ashley Beck (5 – try), Hanno Dirksen (5 – try); Dan Biggar (14 – two penalties, four conversions), Tom Habberfield; Nicky Smith, Scott Otten (5 – try), Ma’afu Fia; Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones; Guy Mercer, Sam Cross, James King.  Subs used: Owen Watkin for Fonotia (53 mins), Rhodri Jones for Smith (61 mins), Matthew Aubrey for Habberfield (64 mins), Alex Jeffries for Fia (64 mins), Sam Davies for Dirksen (67 mins), Adam Beard for Jones (68 mins), Morgan Morris for Mercer (73 mins), Ifan Phillips for Cross (75 mins).

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)