Ospreys 36 - 14 Cardiff Blues
HT 19-0
Sat 24 April 17:15 Liberty Stadium Ref: Sam Grove-white Rainbow Cup

Ospreys 36 Cardiff Blues 14

Sat 24 Apr 2021 19:00 Ospreys 36 Cardiff Blues 14

Cardiff Blues fell to defeat in Swansea as the Ospreys took the spoils from the opening encounter of the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup.

The home side dominated large spells and led 19-0 at the interval following a deserved opening try and two fortuitous scores from charge down deflections.

They added a fourth try as Ifan Phillips burrowed over to complete a brace before Cardiff Blues burst to life in the final quarter.

They scored two fine tries through Max Llewellyn and Ellis Bevan, either side of a Sam Cross effort, but it was too little and too late against a strong Ospreys outfit, who claimed a sixth try at the death.

The two teams had taken two conflicting approaches to the opening encounter of new Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup.

While Dai Young opted to expose his wider squad and took the opportunity to try three players in new positions, the Ospreys selected their strongest possible side.

It was subsequently a formidable test for the much changed line-up but they would nonetheless have been disappointed by elements of their performance.

The Ospreys had the opportunity to open the scoring just before the five minute mark as they were awarded a fortuitous penalty. Justin Tipuric pointed to the sticks but Josh Thomas fired wide.

It did not take the hosts long however, to take the lead as they kicked another penalty and rumbled over with hooker Ifan Phillips the beneficiary.

Thomas was again off target, meaning the Ospreys lead remained 5-0, and while they enjoyed further spells of pressure, the Cardiff defence held firm. 

Cardiff enjoyed a promising spell on 15 minutes with some slick handling from Keiron Assiratti creating space on the right before a cross-kick released Hallam Amos on the right.

He offloaded to Ben Murphy but play soon broke down and the Blues were penalised at the scrum.

The Ospreys continued to enjoy the lion’s share of territory and possession, often exacerbated by indiscipline. 

A searing break from Owen Lane, who drifted wide only to step inside Dan Evans, perhaps should have led to more but with George North gaining ground, his options were few and far between and he was caught on the angle by Owen Watkin.

Booth’s side claimed a second try on 31 minutes as half charge down of Matthew Aubrey’s box-kick created an ugly deflection and Jason Harries was unable to collect the spinning ball, which squirted through his legs and then sat up for Matt Protheroe. He was caught but there was plenty of onrushing support and he put Keiran Williams away.

Cardiff were dealt a further blow on the stroke of half time as the Ospreys claimed a third try in similar fashion.

With no options Thomas opted for a nothing kick but again it ricocheted off a defensive hand, playing several offside Ospreys onside and leaving the Blues’ defence with no chance to recover. 

The Ospreys powered over for a fourth try on 49 minutes after a penalty was kicked to the corner. Just like their first try, the driving line out ambled forward before Phillips burrowed over despite a concerted effort by several players to hold the ball up, which appeared successful. 

Strong carries and offloads from Harries and Lane put Cardiff on the front foot as they went in search of their first points but Thomas, who had recently moved to 10, kicked wide and the ball beat Fish to touch. 

Cardiff finally claimed their first points of the encounter on 62 minutes as Thomas and Max Llewellyn combining in midfield. It was a sight which would be familiar to any supporter of the Premiership team as Llewellyn hit a short line off Thomas to slice through.

He showed impressive pace to burst clear and then hitch kicked to leave Dan Evans dead in defence. Thomas knocked over the conversion to make it 24-7.

Any hope of a comeback was diminished five minutes later as Sam Cross collected an easy offload to crash over with Josh Thomas again on target. 

Cardiff struck for a second try with less than 10 minutes remaining as Llewellyn turned from scorer to provider.

It was veteran full-back Dan Fish that created the opportunity as he took a quick tap after Liam Belcher earned a turnover penalty.

Fish found Bevan in support and he put Llewellyn scorching through on another inside line. The centre beat one man before offloading to Bevan for a try on debut.

The Ospreys reverted to their power game in the closing stages and Parry followed in Phillips' foot-steps by touching down from the base of a driving line-out. Despite Owen Lane opting to use his side's Captain's Challenge, the score stood.