By Will Humphrey
On 28th of November, Ospreys lined up to take on their Welsh rivals Cardiff Blues in the latest round of fixtures in the Guinness Pro-12 premiership. Osprey’s were 8th in the Pro-12 table going in the fixture and Cardiff were in 11th, with three place separating the two teams it was setting the scene for a close encounter between the welsh giants. The rival fixture was given increased hype before kick off as it was referred by Nigel Owens, the rugby world cup referee back in October.
Both teams had to adjust and manipulate their pre-game tactics due to the unforgiving winter weather which was out in full force at the Liberty Stadium. Both teams got off to a slow start with just the one score from Cardiff Blues in the entirety of the first half. Osprey’s kept knocking at the door of Cardiff but the Blues produced a sterling defensive performance to deny Ospreys a way back into the fixture.
In amongst the battling at the breakdown, Sam Warburton got his ankle trapped at the bottom of the break down which saw him leave the field injured mid-way through the first half. Dan Biggar was another Welsh International was injured in the game, Biggar struggled with a back injury but played to the end of the first half until he replaced by Sam Davis.
Shortly into the second half Jarrod Evans extended the Cardiff Blues lead to 6 points by converting his second penalty of the afternoon. This second Blues score spurred an Osprey’s come back which saw some pin point kicking from replacement fly-half Sam Davis to give Osprey’s the platform they needed to attack the Blues. After looking after possession and good recycling at the break down, Alun Wyn Jones took on three Blues players a few meters from the line and scored a try. Sam Davis knocked over the conversation to give Osprey’s a 7 to six points lead over the Blues.
Each coach tried to shake the close encounter up by bringing on several substitutes but the game still remained to be a tightly fought fixture. Cardiff’s effort in the contact area was unrelenting and caused numerous turnovers however tiredness crept in and so did ill-discipline. Sam Davis converted a penalty to give Osprey’s a four point cushion, and then narrowly missed a drop goal before adding another penalty to take the score 13-6.
Blues did have an opportunity to get back into the game when they strung together several successful pick and drives near Osprey’s try line but yet again ill-discipline at the break down lead them to concede a penalty.
The rain and wind continued to try and disrupt the game but Sam Davis continued to dictate the fixture producing some superb territorial kicks to Cardiff pegged back in their own half. Sam Davis’ impressive second half performance saw him earn the man of the match and is a player to look out for in the future at both club and international level.
The score finished 13-6 to Ospreys which sees them remain eighth in the Guinness Pro-12 league and despite losing the game Cardiff Blues move up to tenth.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales) Assistant referees: Leighton Hodges, Wayne Davies (Wales).