Pro14: Ospreys fight back to earn deserved 26-20 away win over Connacht

Pro14: Connacht v Ospreys
Connacht (17) 20
Tries: Wootton, Boyle Cons: Fitzgerald 2 Pens: Fitzgerald 2
Ospreys (5) 26
Tries: North, Protheroe, Webb 2 Cons: Myler 3

Ospreys fought back from 17-5 down at half-time to deservedly clinch a 26-20 away win over Connacht in the Pro14.

George North's try put Ospreys ahead but Alex Wootton's breakaway score and Paul Boyle's touchdown in injury-time left Connacht 12 up at the interval.

However Mat Protheroe's score boosted Ospreys before Rhys Webb sniped his way over to help the visitors lead 19-17.

A Conor Fitzgerald penalty restored Connacht's lead but Webb finished off a maul to notch the match-clinching try.

Ospreys were full value for their victory as they recorded a sixth win in seven matches.

They will have been scratching their heads at half-time to figure out why they were so far in arrears.

But the visitors cut out the handling errors in the second half with some marvellous running rugby as Webb, left out of Wales' Six Nations squad, helped them take control.

Protheroe's 47th-minute try after a superb move came even though Ospreys were down to 14 men after Justin Tipuric's yellow card, and the score was crucial in turning the game in the visitors' favour.

George North scores Ospreys early try despite Peter Sullivan's efforts
George North's try gave Ospreys an early lead in Galway

Captain Tipuric and wing North were joined in the starting line-up by four other members of Wales' Six Nations squad - Dan Lydiate, Rhodri Jones, Adam Beard and Owen Watkin.

Tipuric was centrally involved in North's ninth-minute try as he burst down the right flank and delivered an inside pass to full-back Dan Evans, who set up the wing to score.

Prior to that, Connacht had butchered a glorious chance as Fitzgerald's looping pass to wing Wootton was forward with the visitors' outnumbered in defence.

But after North's try, the tale of the first half was wasted Ospreys opportunities as centre Kieran Williams twice gave up possession when they seemed set to touch down again.

Connacht's 30th-minute try, after fly-half Fitzgerald's earlier penalty, came as Kieran Marmion's midfield hit on Williams allowed the home number 10 to gather before he released the flying Wootton to run 70 metres to score unchallenged.

That smash and grab was then followed by Boyle's try in the fifth minute of injury time after Marmion's dart from the base of a five-metre scrum following Tipuric's sin-binning.

Ospreys could have been forgiven for thinking it was not going to be their day but instead they took control after the break as fast hands and feet from Stephen Myler, the ever-industrious Williams and North, culminated in Protheroe's try for the 14 men.

Within five minutes, Ospreys were ahead as Webb broke through Fitzgerald's poor attempt at a tackle to score, with Myler again adding the extras.

A Fitzgerald penalty in the 58th minute restored Connacht's lead but the force was with Ospreys and a period of sustained pressure was finished off by Webb's 68th-minute score, with the visitors managing the game with little incident thereafter.

The defeat was a hammer blow to Connacht's faint hopes of catching Conference B leaders Munster as they trail their Irish rivals by 11 points while Ospreys remain third in Conference A as Leinster and Ulster battle it out for the other final spot in this year's shortened competition.

Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb told Premier Sports:

"We had no game last week due to European games being off so we had a good couple of days preparing for this game.

"I thought we started the game well and created a lot of chances in that first half, but could not finish them off.

"We were slightly disappointed, but we knew if we stuck to what we keep doing, then we would finally get the rewards."

On his Wales omission, Webb said: "You can't really control these things. For me personally I was just happy to be back out on the pitch with the boys here.

"It's awesome to get the win and I am just looking forward to having the week off, happy days."

Connacht: John Porch; Peter Sullivan, Tom Daly, Peter Robb, Alex Wootton; Conor Fitzgerald, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury, Jarrad Butler (capt), Conor Oliver, Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Conor Kenny, Niall Murray, Abraham Papali'i, Caolin Blade, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy.

Ospreys: Dan Evans; George North, Owen Watkin, Kieran Williams, Mat Protheroe; Stephen Myler, Rhys Webb; Rhodri Jones, Sam Parry, Ma'afu Fia, Adam Beard, Rhys Davies, Will Griffiths, Justin Tipuric (capt), Dan Lydiate.

Replacements: Ifan Phillips, Gareth Thomas, Tom Botha, Lloyd Ashley, Morgan Morris, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Josh Thomas, Keelan Giles.

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)

Assistant referees: Chris Busby, Rob O'Sullivan (both IRFU)

TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)

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