RaboDirect Pro12: Connacht 6-17 Ospreys

Connacht (6) 6

  • Pens: Nikora 2

Ospreys (10) 17

  • Tries: Morgan, Parker
  • Cons: Morgan 2
  • Pens: Morgan
Rhys Webb passes from a ruck

Rhys Webb's break set up Matthew Morgan's first-half try for the Ospreys

The Ospreys moved back to the top of the Pro12 as their understrength side still proved too strong for Connacht in a windy Galway.

Miah Nikora and Matthew Morgan swapped early penalties before scrum-half Rhys Webb's break set up Morgan to score under the posts on 32 minutes.

Nikora kicked another penalty before the break but with the wind advantage to follow, the Ospreys were in control.

Sonny Parker's try made the game safe as Connacht lacked a cutting edge.

The Ospreys were without 18 squad members because of Wales and Wales Sevens duty and injuries but Tommy Bowe was in action for the Welsh outfit in his native country.

Connacht had the gale force wind at their backs in their first half but kicking was still difficult and Nikora was off target with the game's opening penalty chance in the 11th minute.

As Connacht pressed, Paul O'Donohue sniped towards the Ospreys line in the 13th minute before being bundled into touch.

Connacht's early pressure did yield a penalty for Nikora in the 16th minute but Morgan quickly levelled for the Ospreys after a George Naoupu infringement in a ruck.

The conditions suggested that Connacht would need a healthy lead going into the second half so the game was going to plan for the Ospreys.

It got even better for the visitors in the 32nd minute as scrum-half Webb's midfield break set up Morgan to score under the posts and the fly-half added the conversion for good measure to increase the Ospreys lead to 10-3.

Nikora replied with a Connacht penalty but Richard Hibbard wasted a chance to score a second Ospreys try before the break as the visitors had numbers out wide.

However given the conditions, the Ospreys' 10-6 interval lead appeared a dominant position.

Connacht summoned up a big effort after the break and pressure in the Ospreys 22 resulted in Ian Gough being yellow carded in the 45th minute.

But after opting for the line-out, Connacht failed to control the possession and the chance was lost - something that happened on several occasions during the 80 minutes.

Replacement scrum-half Murphy attemped to generate quicker Connacht possession but the visitors held firm and invariably punted the ball, wind-assisted, back into home territory.

After the Connacht huff and puff had come to nothing, Duncan Jones, making his 150th appearance for the Ospreys, produced a run which helped set up the decisive second try on the hour.

After Jones had charged to the edge of the Connacht 22, slick handling in the Ospreys backs culminated in Richard Fussell setting up replacement Parker to score under the posts.

Morgan added the conversion and with almost 20 minutes left, the game was already over.

The defeat leaves Connacht without a win since 23 September.

TEAMS

Connacht: Gavin Duffy (capt); Brian Tuohy, Dave McSharry, Henry Fa'afili, Tiernan O'Halloran; Miah Nikora, Paul O'Donohoe; Brett Wilkinson, Adrian Flavin, Rodney Ah You; Dave Gannon, George Naoupu; TJ Anderson, John Muldoon, Ray Ofisa.

Replacements: Mark McCrea for Tuohy 69, Niall O'Connor for Nikora 52, Frank Murphy for O'Donohoe 52, Ronan Loughney for Wilkinson 56, Ethienne Reynecke for Flavin 56, Stewart Maguire for Ah You 69, Mike Kearney for Anderson 41, Eoghan Grace for Ofisa 71.

Ospreys: Barry Davies; Tommy Bowe, Andrew Bishop, Ashley Beck, Richard Fussell; Matthew Morgan, Rhys Webb; Duncan Jones, Richard Hibbard, Aaron Jarvis, Ian Gough, James King, Tom Smith (capt), Chauncey O'Toole, Joe Bearman.

Replacements: Hanno Dirkson for Bowe 74, Sonny Parker for Beck 54, Tom Isaacs for Webb 80, Joe Rees for D Jones 80, Mefin Davies for Hibbard 75, Cai Griffiths for Jarvis 59, Lloyd Peers for Gough (78), George Stowers for O'Toole (52).

Referee: Andrew McMenemy (SRU)