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Rugby | Champions Cup

Dan Evans © Gallo Images

Ospreys up to second after solid win



Ospreys made it back-to-back wins over Northampton as they beat them 32-15 at the Liberty Stadium to move above Saracens in the pool.

A try inside two minutes from Dmitri Arhip gave Ospreys a halftime lead, and further efforts from Rhys Webb (2) and Justin Tipuric saw the hosts ease to victory.

Before kick-off, both sides occupied the bottom two spots in pool two. And the game marked a new era for Saints, who saw Jim Mallinder’s 10-year reign as director of rugby come to an end in the week, following a disappointing run in recent months.

But Mallinder’s departure didn’t inject a new lease of life into his former side – they conceded the first try inside just three minutes. Following an opening that saw Ospreys peg the visitors back, they eased through when Arhip rolled his way through in the corner. Sam Davies missed the subsequent conversion, and Saints started to grow back into the game from then. They did concede the next points, however, as Davies’ penalty helped the lead on to eight after 25 minutes.

Saints offered little in attack and they fell further behind courtesy of a second kick from Davies. They did go close in the final minutes of the half, but saw possession turned over just metres from the line, allowing the Welsh side to take an 11-0 lead into the break.

Northampton’s second-half start was a polar opposite of the first, and they recorded their first points six minutes in with a try. The TMO gave the thumbs up after Harry Mallinder made the most of a misjudged Ospreys line-out. There was a tinge of irony behind the try, with Mallinder’s points the first since his dad departed. It got his side right back into the game though, with the lead reduced to just six after Piers Francis missed the kick.

He made up for that with a well struck penalty, however, Saints reigniting the tie and potentially their Champions Cup form. It didn’t lead to anything though, as Ospreys recorded their second try. It came from patient build up as the forwards flooded towards the line, and replacement Webb stretched over before Davies created the 18-8 gap.

The match was won when Dan Evans broke through the centre, offloading left to Owen Watkin who fed Tipuric. It was poor from Saints who allowed Evans through without a challenge made, and the two points swiftly followed for 25-8.

The hosts sensed the bonus point was coming, and Webb added the fourth just two minutes after Tipuric found the line.

The Ospreys flanker almost got his second before being held up, but Webb retrieved the ball and leant over the top of bodies to place down for the extra point. The game was well beyond Saints by the time Davies kicked the conversion, before a last minute consolation try from Jamie Gibson made the final score 32-15.

SCORERS:

Ospreys - Tries: Arhip, Webb 2, Tipuric. Conversions: Davies 3. Penalties: Davies 2

Northampton - Tries: Mallinder, Gibson. Conversion: Mallinder. Penalty: Francis



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