Biggar's boot keeps Ospreys' alive

Fri, 11 Apr 2014 21:43
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Dan Biggar kicked 20 points for Ospreys, including a crucial late drop-goal and a vital penalty, to defeat Pro12 leaders Leinster 25-19 and keep their play-off hopes alive.

Dan Biggar kicked 20 points for Ospreys, including a crucial late drop-goal and a vital penalty, to defeat Pro12 leaders Leinster 25-19 and keep their play-off hopes alive.

Ospreys led 13-10 at the break thanks to a Jeff Hassler try and eight points from the boot of Biggar, with Cian Healy's try just before half-time keeping Leinster in touch.

* In other action on Friday Andrew Trimble helped himself to hat-trick as Ulster returned to winning ways in the Pro12 in style, running in eight tries to down Connacht 58-12 at Ravenhill.

* Dafydd Hewitt's late try saw Cardiff Blues secure back-to-back Pro12 victories as they beat Edinburgh 29-22 at Meggetland.

We look at Friday's matches!

Ulster 58-12 Connacht

Andrew Trimble helped himself to hat-trick as Ulster returned to winning ways in the Pro12 in style, running in eight tries to down Connacht 58-12 at Ravenhill.

Ulster saw a six-game winning streak came to an abrupt halt against Cardiff Blues last time out and were clearly eager to get back to winning ways as they wrapped up a try bonus point after just 24 minutes as Paul Marshall helped himself to two tries and Trimble and Tommy Bowe got in on the act.

Connacht had levelled through a Dave McSharry try after falling behind early on, but they simply had no answer to Ulster's dominance - even if Darragh Leader also touched down.

Trimble secured his treble just before the hour mark while Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy also crossed in a convincing home win.

The game was just four minutes old when Ulster drew first blood with a try in the corner from Paul Marshall, the scrum-half sniping around the side of the breakdown.

Paddy Jackson pushed the difficult conversion wide and things went from bad to worse for the home side as Connacht drew level on seven minutes as McSharry exploited an overlap on the left-hand side.

Dan Parks also sent the tough conversion wide but on 11 minutes Jackson found his range, bisecting the posts after Connacht were penalised for not releasing.

And Ulster extended their lead after quarter of an hour as Trimble went over on the wing, Jackson once again wide with the tricky conversion.

Try number three arrived on 23 minutes, this time Trimble playing the role of provider as he broke before offloading to Bowe - fly-half Jackson this time converting, albeit off the left-hand post.

And just moments later Ulster had wrapped up the bonus point as Paul Marshall grabbed his second try of the game, Trimble once again setting it up.

Jackson once again converted and sent over a penalty just before half-time as well to allow his side to go into the break with a healthy 30-5 lead.

And Ulster didn't let their foot off the pedal in the second half, scoring a fifth try just two minutes after the restart. This time Bowe repaid the favour but setting Trimble away, the winger running from just outside his own 22 before touching down. Jackson converted and Ulster lead 37-5.

It was the Luke Marshall's turn to get in on the act as he finished off a brilliant move involving Jackson and Darren Cave to mark his 50th Ulster cap in style.

Jackson converted and on 57 minutes Connacht were down to 14 men after Michael Swift was shown a yellow card by referee Ian Davies on his 180th appearance for the club, just three minutes after coming off the bench.

And moments later Trimble was celebrating a hat-trick, Michael Heaney setting it up after replacing Paul Marshall, Jackson once again converting.

Replacement winger Leader gave the travelling Connacht fans something to cheer on 62 minutes as he grabbed a try, Miah Nikora converting.

However their joy was short lived as left wing Gilroy grabbed Ulster's eighth score, racing onto a James McKinney kick through to touch down.

McKinney had replaced Jackson but picked up where the Ireland international had left off, sending the conversion through the uprights.

Robbie Henshaw thought he had a late try but he collected Nikora's cross-field kick with one foot out of touch with the visitors delighted to hear the final whistle.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
P Marshall 2, Trimble 3, Bowe, L Marshall, Gilroy
Cons: Jackson 5, McKinney
Pens: Jackson 2

For Connacht:
McSharry, Leader
Con: Nikora

Yellow card: Michael Swift (Connacht, 58)

Ulster: 15 Ricky Andrew, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Tommy Bowe, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Johann Muller (captain), 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andrew Warwick.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Tom Court, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Louis Stevenson, 20 Sean Doyle, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 James McKinney, 23 Stuart McCloskey.
Connacht:  15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Eoghan Masterson, 6 John Muldoon (captain), 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Aly Muldowney, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Michael Swift, 20 Andrew Browne, 21 Frank Murphy, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Darragh Leader.
Referee: Ian Davies
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan, Paul Haycock
TMO: Kevin Beggs (IRFU)

Edinburgh 22-29 Cardiff Blues

Dafydd Hewitt's late try saw Cardiff Blues secure back-to-back Pro12 victories as they beat Edinburgh 29-22 at Meggetland.

Centre Matt Scott went over for the hosts early on but tries from Cory Allen, Filo Paulo and Dan Fish handed the ascendency to Cardiff Blues.

Tom Brown did threaten an Edinburgh comeback as he grabbed the home side's second try of the game, but it wasn't to be as Hewitt went over with five minutes remaining to secure a Pro12 double for Cardiff over their Scottish opponents.

However it wasn't all doom and gloom for Edinburgh as Cornell du Preez went over at the death to earn his side a losing bonus point.

After just two minutes Cardiff Blues found themselves ahead as Gareth Davies slotted a penalty, although Edinburgh were level moments later as Jack Cuthbert replied with a three-pointer of his own following a high tackle.

Cardiff threatened to score the game's first try on seven minutes but a testing grubber kick ran out of play, and the visitors soon found themselves behind as Scott did indeed grab the evening's first score.

The Scotland centre showed great pace and strength, bursting on to the ball before fending off a defender to race in under the posts, Cuthbert adding the easy conversion.

Another grabber kick nearly came off for Cardiff on 14 minutes only for a knock on to spoil the move, but they did have a try shortly afterwards as Allen touched down, Davies levelling the scores from the tee.

And after half an hour Cardiff were back in front as lock Paulo battered his way over, Davies adding the extras from the touchline.

The Blues maintained their seven-point lead up until half-time and things went from good to great for the visitors one minute after the restart as Fish scored, Davies again converting.

This woke the hosts up and on 47 minutes they halved the deficit as Cuthbert was successful with the touchline conversion after Brown had dotted down in the corner after a pick and snipe.

Some great offloading rugby saw Edinburgh back into Cardiff's 22 shortly afterwards but the period of pressure came to an end with a knock on.

On 65 minutes it was the visitor's turn to go close and the Blues were only kept out by some last-gasp Edinburgh defending.

Alex Cuthbert looked like making the game safe for Cardiff Blues late on after breaking through, only to knock on after a great tackle by Edinburgh namesake Jack.

But the visitors did put the game to bed with five minutes remaining as Hewitt scored out wide, wrapping up a bonus point in the process.

Davies missed the conversion and Edinburgh made the most of it, helping themselves to a losing bonus point as du Preez went over at the death, Jack Cuthbert's touchline conversion hitting the post.

The scorers:

For Edinburgh:
Scott, Brown, Du Preez
Cons: Cuthbert 2
Pen: Cuthbert

For Cardiff Blues:
Allen, Paulo, Fish, Hewitt
Cons: G Davies 3
Pen: G Davies

Yellow card: Bradley Davies (Cardiff Blues, 78)

Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Grayson Hart, 8 David Denton, 7 Cornell Du Preez, 6 Mike Coman (captain), 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.   
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Roddy Grant, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Carl Bezuidenhout, 23 Sam Beard.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Isaia Tuifua, 11 Chris Czekaj, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Gethin Jenkins (captain).
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Simon Humberstone, 23 Dafydd Hewitt
Referee: Dudley Phillips
Assistant referees: Peter Allan, Graeme Marshall
Ospreys 25-19 Leinster

Dan Biggar kicked 20 points including a crucial late drop-goal and a vital penalty to defeat Pro12 leaders Leinster 25-19 and keep their play-off hopes alive.

Ospreys led 13-10 at the break thanks to a Jeff Hassler try and eight points from the boot of Biggar, with Cian Healy's try just before half-time keeping Leinster in touch.

Biggar extended Ospreys' lead with a further two penalties in an eight-minute spell after the interval but Jimmy Gopperth kicked three penalties to draw Leinster level with 12 minutes to go.

At that point the leaders were favourite to take the win but Biggar regained the lead with a well-taken drop goal and then held his nerve to seal the victory with a penalty.

Leinster, now focused solely on the Pro12 following their elimination from the European Cup last weekend, took the lead on ten minutes.

Gopperth had already missed one penalty before he slotted over the first three points of the match.

Ospreys responded by going through the phases and after Biggar saw his long-range drop goal attempt come back off the post the Wales fly-half levelled the scores with a penalty.

Ospreys were straight back on the front foot and a break from the impressive Dan Baker earned a penalty when Leinster flanker Kevin McLaughlin was again penalised, but Biggar failed with his attempt.

Isaac Boss was penalised for obstructing Biggar as he chased a loose ball a moment later though and this time the No.10 was spot on to put Ospreys 6-3 up.

After 25 minutes Biggar attempted to increase his tally only to see a drop goal drift wide.

Ospreys extended their lead with a fine try on 33 minutes. First Biggar's long pass found Richard Fussell who in turn set Hassler free.

Leinster scrambled back to deny the winger but Ospreys patiently worked through the phases and after Hassler ran them deep into Leinster territory, Fussell showed quick hands from Biggar's pass to leave Hassler with a simple run-in.

Biggar converted to extend the lead to 13-3 but Leinster are not Pro12 leaders for nothing and powered their way back into the contest.

From the lineout Leinster got the maul going and worked their way over, Ireland prop Healy taking the plaudits and Gopperth converting to send his side in 13-10 down at half-time.

Biggar continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over with his first penalty of the second half coming after 43 minutes.

It was the same story seven minutes later when Shane Jennings was penalised for not rolling away with Biggar extending the lead to 19-10.

A Gopperth penalty gave Leinster their first points of the second half on 53 minutes and they should have crossed for a try five minutes later only for Dave Kearney to spill the Kiwi's wonderful long pass with the try-line gaping.

From the resulting lineout, Leinster regained possession and after Ospreys were penalised Gopperth reduced the gap to three points.

There was a sense of inevitability about Leinster's comeback and they duly drew level when Gopperth slotted his fourth penalty of the night with 12 minutes to go.

Yet Ospreys were always in the contest and after punching holes in the Leinster defence, Biggar stabbed over a close-range drop goal to re-take the lead at 22-19.

And the 24-year-old made the game safe with three minutes to go when he nailed a penalty from the right touchline to open up a six-point gap.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Con: Biggar
Pens: Biggar 5
DG: Biggar

For Leinster:
Con: Gopperth
Pens: Gopperth 4
Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Aisea Natoga, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Joe Bearman, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Ryan Jones, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Adam Jones, 19 James King, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Hanno Dirksen.
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Zane Kirchner, 13 Gordon D'Arcy, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip , 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Leo Cullen (captain), 3 Martin Moore, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Collie O'Shea, 23 Darragh Fanning.
Referee: Marius Mitrea
Assistant Referees: Neil Hennessy, Jon Mason
TMO: Gareth Simmonds

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Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Glasgow Warriors 21 15 1 5 76
Munster 21 13 1 7 69
Cheetahs 21 12 0 9 63
Cardiff Blues 21 11 0 10 54
Ospreys 21 9 0 12 44
Connacht 21 7 0 14 39
Zebre 21 7 0 14 36
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 21 14 1 6 70
Scarlets 21 14 1 6 70
Edinburgh 21 15 0 6 68
Ulster 21 12 2 7 62
Treviso 21 11 0 10 55
Dragons 21 2 2 17 20
Kings 21 1 0 20 11