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Pro14: Ospreys edge Ulster to end losing run

Ulster wing Robert Baloucoune is tackled by Scott Otten in Saturday evening’s game in Swansea
Pro14: Ospreys v Ulster
Ospreys (18) 26
Tries: Watkin, Otten 2 Pen: Price 3 Con: Price
Ulster (10) 24
Tries: Baloucoune, Faddes, McCloskey Pen: Burns Con: Burns, Johnston 2

Luke Price kicked a 76th-minute winning penalty to end a four-month losing sequence for the Ospreys with a 26-24 victory over Ulster.

Price kicked 11 points to complement two tries from hooker Scott Otten and a further score from returning Wales centre Owen Watkin.

Ulster responded with tries from wing Robert Baloucoune, full-back Matt Faddes and centre Stuart McCloskey.

In terrible conditions in Swansea, Ospreys broke a 13-match losing run.

It was only the Ospreys’ second victory in 17 games this season following the Pro14 win over Benetton on 12 October, 2019.

Ospreys still remain rooted to the bottom on Conference A while Ulster are second.

Welsh barrier

The home side’s defence was excellent with captain Dan Lydiate at the heart of the rearguard resistance as Ulster dominated territory and possession.

Ospreys had centre Watkin and second-row Adam Beard released by Wales to start at the Liberty Stadium.

Watkin returned after recovering fully from knee surgery following an injury suffered in early December 2019 to make his 50th appearance for the region.

Wales trio Alun Wyn Jones, George North and Justin Tipuric were unavailable for selection, while wing Hanno Dirksen was making his 150th appearance.

Bradley Davies rises highest to win the ball for Ospreys at the line-out

Ulster wing Louis Ludik returned from injury to start his first game since 27 December while centre McCloskey and fly-half Billy Burns were released from Ireland’s Six Nations squad.

Ospreys opened the scoring with a Luke Price penalty before Ulster responded with a try for Baloucoune who benefitted from strong build-up play from McCloskey, who overpowered attempted tackles from Simon Gardiner and Aled Davies. Burns converted.

Watkin responded with his first league try for Ospreys in almost four years after latching onto a sublime pass from Aled Davies. Price converted.

Lineout drive

With scrum-half Davies pulling the strings, the host’s pressure continued with hooker Scott Otten driven over from an attacking lineout.

Impressive centre Kieran Williams launched a brilliant 60-metre run to lay the platform for a second Price penalty.

Burns responded with a penalty before scrum-half David Shanahan was denied a try just before half-time by a fine covering tackle by Wales prop Nicky Smith.

Ospreys led 18-10 at the interval and Otten increased that lead early in the second-half with a second try from a driving lineout.

Stuart McCloskey slides over in the Swansea rain for Ulster’s third try

Ulster sent on Ireland duo Jordi Murphy and Jack McGrath among a raft of replacements as the visitors launched a spirited comeback with Faddes crossing.

Replacement Bill Johnston converted and continued his impressive introduction with a pinpoint chip kick for the waiting McCloskey to score in the left hand corner. Johnston converted brilliantly from the left-hand touchline to give Ulster a 24-23 lead.

With five minutes remaining Price kicked the winning penalty before the home side held out against Ulster’s final attack with an attempted Johnston drop-goal charged down by scrum-half Davies.

Ospreys’ Dan Lydiate told S4C’s Y Clwb Rygbi: “It’s been a long time coming. The effort’s always been there from the boys – we haven’t been clinical enough.

“There’s still a few errors in our game but a win is massive for our confidence at the minute. It’s nice to get a win.

“We were desperate to get a win and everybody’s put their bodies on the line. We’ll enjoy this one but we’ve got a big game next week (against Leinster).

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland said: “I’m really disappointed but I would like to say well done to the Ospreys. They deserved the victory.

“With five minutes to go it was our game and we did a good job in pulling the match back, but I thought we were naive in the first half and that was what really cost us the game.”

Ospreys: C Evans; Dirksen, O Watkin, K Williams, L Morgan, L Price, A Davies; N Smith, Otten, S Gardiner, A Beard, B Davies, D Lydiate (capt), O Cracknell, G Evans.

Replacements: S Parry, G Thomas, G Gajion, L Ashley, S Cross, S Venter, T Thomas-Wheeler, J Hook.

Ulster: M Faddes; R Baloucoune, L Marshall, S McCloskey, L Ludik; B Burns, D Shanahan; E O’Sullivan, A McBurney, M Moore, A O’Connor (capt), K Treadwell, M Rea, S Reidy, M Coetzee.

Replacements: J Andrew, J McGrath, T O’Toole, D O’Connor, J Murphy, J Stewart, B Johnston, C Gilroy.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR)

Assistants: Nigel Owens (WRU), & Manuel Bottino (FIR)

TMO: Alan Falzone (FIR)

Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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