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Rugby | Pro14

Tom Habberfield © Getty Images

Ospreys leave it late against Kings

The Ospreys had to rely on two yellow cards and two penalty tries as they laboured to a hard fought 26-12 win over the Southern Kings in a Guinness Pro14 match played at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea on Friday night.

The final scoreline does not reflect how hard the Ospreys had to work for their win.

Although they managed to grab a bonus point by scoring their fourth try off the final move of the game when wing Jeff Hassler dotted down in the corner, the result itself was still in doubt deep into the final minutes as a combination of gutsy Kings defence and spoiling tactics and poor Osprey’s execution and finishing kept the game close.

When the hosts dominated the first 13 minutes en route to their first try their overall ascendancy was such that you would never have bet at that point that they would have to wait until the 72nd minute (on the television clock anyway) until they scored again.

If anything, it was surprising given the dominance the Ospreys enjoyed up to then that they took that long to score their first try, which came through scrumhalf Tom Habberfield going over surprisingly easily from a good attacking scrum.

The Kings were heavily penalised in the early stages and again towards the end, and the Ospreys enjoyed territorial advantage and the major share of the possession throughout the game.

However, their attacking was laboured and the Kings defence read their moves well.

The Kings were helped by an excellent try scored by wing Michael Makase in the 22nd minute.

It was set up by an excellent run from flank Andisa Ntsila, who turned in an outstanding performance both on attack and defence.

Ntsila’s high work rate, which included 17 tackles in addition to several carries on a night where the Kings really didn’t get much ball to play with, deservedly earned him the man of the match award.

Four minutes before the try, fullback Masixole Banda had missed an easy penalty that made it look like it just wouldn’t be the Kings’ night.

But once Makase had crossed in the left corner and Martin du Toit had kicked the conversion that made it 7-all, the Kings were suddenly imbued with confidence that they’d earlier lacked.

The second half of the first half was a good period for the Kings, who scored a second try when a strong driving maul set up after a scrum penalty sent in the impressive hooker Michael Willemse.

The Kings skipper also produced a stupendous effort in all-round play and couldn’t have been far behind Ntsila when it came to adjudication for the man of the match award.

The Willemse try came in the 32nd minute and thanks to some brave and determined defence just before halftime, when the Ospreys dominance of possession and non-stop attacking looked like it might finally take it’s toll, they were able to take a 12-7 lead into the break.

The Ospreys were expected to be easy winners and would have been shocked to be trailing.

It appeared to impact on their confidence early in the second half, and their laboured work at the recycling and errors kept them from maintaining the pressure against a determined Kings defensive effort.

However, the Kings were always poor when it came to discipline, and the slew of penalties they gave away was always going to catch up with them, first in the form of yellow cards and then in the form of penalty tries.

The opening yellow card came first, with reserve prop Johan Smith being banished to reduce the Kings scrum to just seven men.

Up to that point the Kings scrum had been more than competitive, but with a numerical advantage the hosts exploited an attacking position near the left corner by forcing the errors that eventually led to the referee awarding a penalty try that took the Ospreys back into the lead (14-12) for the first time since the 22nd minute.

Eital Bredenkamp was then also carded, perhaps unfortunately, and the Kings suddenly had no price as they conceded a second penalty try to make the game safe for the Ospreys before their wing Hassler dropped in for the try that gave them the bonus.


Ospreys 26 – Tries: Tom Habberfield and Jeff Hassler, two penalty tries; Conversion: Sam Davies.

Southern Kings 12 – Tries: Michael Makase and Michael Willemse; Conversion: Martin du Toit.


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