Hook points way for Ospreys as Dragons fail to fire in try-less game

Neath-Swansea Ospreys 12, Newport-Gwent Dragons 6

It might not have been quite the quality of the Ospreys 50-24 derby win over the Scarlets on St Stephen’s Day, but it was still a win, with the Dragons earning a losing bonus point courtesy of two Ceri Sweeney penalties.

The swirling, torrential rain which hammered down for the entire first-half made a memorable game of rugby almost impossible. And it was not surprising that the 0-0 deadlock was not broken until the 24th minute.

Both sides struggled to get any momentum in the conditions with the Ospreys having the edge, mainly through some impressive touch-finders from Gavin Henson. The only notable attack of the first quarter came with a Hook break and kick ahead which just eluded full-back Lee Byrne as he chased it up. But that pressure led to the game’s first successful penalty after Hook and opposite number Sweeney had been wide. Hook converted his 30-metre penalty from a ruck offence.

In the closing stages of the half Hook and Sweeney exchanged penalties as the Ospreys led 6-3 at the break. The Ospreys extended that advantage to six points with a third Hook penalty after Dragons replacement prop Lee Harrison was sin-binned for a professional foul. And with no other fit prop on the bench that forced uncontested scrums for the duration of Harrison’s yellow card. But down to 14 men the Dragons responded with a second Sweeney penalty on 56 minutes.

The Dragons came closest to grabbing the first try of the contest but Kevin Morgan could only knock-on Sweeney’s searching chip over the line. It summed up an error-strewn match.

It proved a critical moment as the Ospreys scored next through a Gavin Henson penalty goal from 45 metres as the Ospreys began to win the territorial battle.

Ospreys scorers: Pens: Hook 3, Henson.

Newport-Gwent D’gons: Pens: Sweeney 2.

OSPREYS: Byrne, Mustoe, Selley, Henson, Walker, Hook, Spice, James, B. Williams, Griffiths, Cockbain, A. Jones, Lloyd, Tandy, R. Jones.

Replacements: Connor for Selley (57), A. Bishop for Hook (81), Millward for Griffiths (45), Bateman for Lloyd (61), Tiatia for Tandy (52).

GWENT D’GONS: Morgan, Wyatt, Emerick, Smith, A. Brew, Sweeney, Cooper, Black, Daly, Corsi, Gough, Sidoli, Bearman, Ringer, Fitisemanu.

Replacements: Hercus for Morgan (81), Walker for Cooper (71), Crawford for Daly (73), Harrison for Corsi (33), Hall for Bearman (59), Charvis for Ringer (41), Owen for Fitisemanu (59).

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRFU).

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