Connacht see off Ospreys
PRO14 REPORT: Connacht are up to fourth place in Conference A of the Pro14 after an 26-15 victory over Ospreys in Galway.
Tries by Eoghan Masterson and Tom Farrell and a solid performance by flyhalf Craig Ronaldson from the tee earned Connacht a dogged win.
Aside from his two conversions, the flyhalf also added four successful penalties to his side's tally.
Ospreys were left to rue a series of missed chances at the Sportsground as they failed to convert their periods of dominance into points.
Dafydd Howells and Reuben Morgan-Williams both touched down for the visitors, who remain sixth in the conference standings.
The visitors had plenty of possession in Connacht territory but a series of costly spilled passes and penalties prevented them from scoring on several occasions.
After they had weathered an early Ospreys attack, the home side took the lead in the 10th minute.
Craig Ronaldson’s first penalty attempt struck the post but Connacht scrambled quickly to regain the ball and earn another chance for their flyhalf to put them ahead.
It was Ospreys who scored the opening try as winger Dafydd Howells did well to finish in the corner in the 18th minute following sustained pressure on the Connacht line.
Ronaldson kicked Connacht back into the lead five minutes later before the Irish province plundered a try just before half-time.
Eoghan Masterson managed to force his way over the line following good work from his pack and Ronaldson converted with the final kick before the break.
The Welsh side’s hopes of overturning an eight-point deficit were severely dented in the 53rd minute when Hanno Dirksen was sin-binned for a late hit on Connacht scrumhalf Caoilin Blade and Ronaldson landed the resulting penalty.
The home side increased their lead with their second try, which was created and finished by Farrell, to effectively seal the result.
Substitute Morgan-Williams grabbed a consolation score but Ronaldson made sure of the result with a late penalty that was brought into his range after the Ospreys were penalised for dissent.
Tries: Masterson, Farrell
Cons: Ronaldson 2
Pens: Ronaldson 4
Tries: Howell, Morgan-Williams
Yellow Card: Hanno Dirksen (Ospreys, 52)
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Tom Farrell, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Craig Ronaldson, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 John Muldoon (captain), 7 Naulia Dawai, 6 Eoghan Masterson, 5 James Cannon, 4 Andrew Browne, 3 Conor Carey, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Coulson.
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Peter McCabe, 18 Dominic Robertson McCoy, 19 Gavin Thornbury, 20 James Connolly, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Pita Ahki.
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Dafydd Howells, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 Rob McCusker (captain), 7 Will Jones, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 James King, 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Scott Otten, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Guy Mercer, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22 Luke Price, 23 Joe Thomas.
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), John Carvill (Ireland)