Clinical Ospreys punish depleted Leinster

EUROPEAN kings Leinster made a nightmare start to the RaboDirect Pro12 after being blown away by the Ospreys in Swansea last night.

In a repeat of the 2009 Magners League Grand Final, the Welsh region cruised into an emphatic lead with a ferocious first-half performance and Joe Schmidt’s men trailed 27-3 at the interval.

Rhys Webb, Hanno Dirksen and Justin Tipuric all crossed for the hosts, while all Leinster could manage was a single Mat Berquist penalty.

Following Shane Jennings call-up to Ireland, for injured David Wallace, Leinster travelled to Wales with 14 players committed to the World Cup in New Zealand — more than any other club in Europe.

The Ospreys were missing six Welsh players, Tommy Bowe, and three summer signings on duty with Canada and Samoa. But the Welsh looked far more settled and punished the inexperienced Leinster side led by former Ospreys man Rhys Ruddock.

The Ospreys pounced within three minutes. Richard Fussell and Ashley Beck combined to cut Leinster to shreds. Beck fed Andrew Bishop and the Wales centre offloaded to send Webb over. Biggar dissected the posts and soon added a penalty to hand the hosts a 10-0 lead.

The Ospreys extended their advantage on 20 minutes when axed Wales star Jonathan Thomas broke from the back of a five-metre scrum to send Dirksen over in the left corner, Biggar again adding extras.

Biggar grabbed a neat drop-goal but Berquist hit back with a successful penalty on the half-hour.

But the Ospreys landed a hammer-blow on the stroke of half-time.

Fionn Carr was turned-over after becoming isolated following a counter attack and Webb took full advantage with a dart round the ruck. He chipped Isa Nacewa and Tipuric was on hand to collect and slide over. Biggar extended his 100% ratio to hand the hosts a 27-3 half-time lead.

Leinster came out for the second half with far more direction but were unable to turn pressure into points.

Rhys Ruddock turned down several shots at goal, chasing a crucial try but Leinster were unable to cross the white line. Kevin McLaughlin was held up after appearing to grab the crucial try. Luke Fitzgerald’s torrid two weeks continued after he was dragged off on 56 minutes after suffering a knee injury and will be taken for a scan.

Carr looked to have broke the deadlock to hand his side a lifeline on 66 minutes after dancing past Tom Isaacs. But Eoin O’Malley’s pass was judged to be forward.

- Ulster opened their campaign with tries from Darren Cave, Paul Marshall and skipper Chris Henry in a 28-14 win over Glasgow at Ravenhill.

Ospreys: Tries: R Webb, H Dirksen, J Tipuric; Cons: D Biggar (3); Pen: D Biggar; DG: D Biggar. Leinster: Pen: M Berquist.

OSPREYS: R Fussell; K Phillips (T Isaacs, 58), A Bishop, A Beck (S Parker, 66), H Dirksen; D Biggar (M Morgan, 72), R Webb; D Jones (J Rees, 62), M Davies (K Dowding, 76), C Griffiths (M Dwyer, 78), I Gough (J King, 66), I Evans, T Smith (M Allen, 58), J Tipuric (capt), J Thomas.

LEINSTER: I Nacewa; D Kearney, E O’Malley, L Fitzgerald, (B Macken, 56), F Carr; M Berquist (I Madigan, 51), J Cooney (C Willis, 40); H van der Merwe (J O’Connell, 77), R Strauss (A Dundon, 66), J Hagan (J McGrath, 56), D Browne (M Flanagan, 56), D Toner, K McLaughlin, D Ryan, R Ruddock (capt) (L Auva’a, 61).

Ref: Peter Fitzgibbon

Ulster scorers: Tries: Cave, P. Marshall, Henry. Cons: Humphreys 2. Pens: Humphreys 3. Glasgow: Tries: Nathan. Pens: Weir 3.

ULSTER: D’Arcy, Gilroy, Cave, Spence, I. Whitten, Humphreys, P. Marshall, McAllister, Kyriacou, Cronin, Stevenson, Tuohy, Wannenburg, Faloon, Henry. Replacements: Brady for Kyriacou (67).

GLASGOW: Hogg, Seymour, Dewey, Nathan, Shaw, Weir, Gregor, Welsh, MacArthur, Cusack, Ryder, Harley, Eddie, Fusaro, Wilson. Replacements: Horne for Seymour (54), Pyrgos for Dewey (62), Aramburu for Shaw (52), Grant for Welsh (12), Kalman for Cusack (52), Campbell for Eddie (66), Pitman for Wilson (58).

Ref: Leighton Hodges (RFU).

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