Ospreys bury below-par Connacht’s Champions Cup qualification hopes

Connacht’s slim Champions Cup qualification hopes were ended in Swansea as Kieran Keane’s side were beaten 39-10 by the Ospreys.

Ospreys bury below-par Connacht’s Champions Cup qualification hopes

Tries from Jeff Hassler, Dan Evans, Scott Otten, Ashley Beck, Hanno Dirksen and 14 points from the boot of Dan Biggar, on his final home appearance for the Welsh region, was enough to see off Connacht. The province are now 13 points behind fourth placed Cardiff Blues with only two games remaining.

This was a desperately poor performance from the visitors who were outmuscled and ran out of ideas very easily.

It was the home side who started the game with more urgency as Wales out half Biggar slotted over a penalty from 47 metres out.

After some early Ospreys pressure Connacht were given a reprieve when full back Dan Evans was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock on. The visitors had finally got some quick ball and worked an overlap only for Evans to tap forward Tiernan O’Halloran’s pass with Niyi Adelolukun on the outside.

Connacht won territory from the ensuing penalty and began to build pressure in the Ospreys 22. With a man on his outside Canadian international Hassler picked off Owen Griffin’s pass and ran in unopposed from 95 metres out for the games first try.

But Connacht were galvanised by the Welsh regions try as Ronaldson touched down from short range courtesy of a nice pass from openside flanker Jarrad Butler which came after their first period of sustained pressure.

However, the former champions wilted under pressure as full back Evans latched onto a well timed flat pass from Biggar from the restart to touch down at the posts.

Jack Carty hit over a penalty to cut the deficit to 10 points meaning Connacht trailed 20-10 at the interval.

There was a moment of controversy at the beginning of the second half when a Carty penalty appeared to go through the posts. But much to Carty’s anger the flags stayed down with referee Ben Whitehouse refusing to refer the kick to the TMO.

Instead of narrowing the gap it extended when young Ospreys hooker Otten powered his way over from short range following a half-break from Biggar.

This time Whitehouse did refer the decision to the TMO who duly awarded the try.

The Ospreys secured the try bonus point when Biggar put Wales international centre Owen Watkin through a gap who then offloaded to Beck who touched down for a score on his final appearance at the Liberty Stadium before moving to Worcester.

Connacht very nearly conceded a fifth try when Tom Habberfield ran on to a Hassler pass to run in unopposed. But upon referring to the TMO for a fourth time Whitehouse disallowed the try as Hassler’s pass was forward.

But Dirksen crossed at the far left-hand corner after the home side upped the tempo with Biggar putting the South African winger over with a lovely pass.

Connacht pushed hard for a consolation try and came close to crossing the line only for O’Halloran to knock the ball forward with the try line at his mercy.

Guinness PRO14: Ospreys 39, Connacht 10

Ospreys scorers:

Tries J Hassler 15, D Evans 27, Otten 53, H Dirksen 67 – Conversions D Biggar 16, 28, 54, 68- Penalties – D Biggar 3, 10

Connacht scorers:

Tries – C Ronaldson 22 Conversions – Ronaldson 23 – Penalties – J Carty 38

Ospreys:

D Evans; J Hassler, K Fonotia (O Watkin 54), A Beck, H Dirksen (S Davies 68); D Biggar, T Habberfield (Aubrey 65) ; N Smith, S Otten, M Fia (A Jeffries 65), B Davies, AW Jones (A Beard 69), G Mercer (M Morris 74), J King, S Cross.

Connacht:

T. O’Halloran; N. Adeolokun (D Leader 59), E. Griffin, P. Robb, M. Healy; J. Carty (Ronaldson 19-27, 54), K. Marmion (C Blade 57); D. Buckley (P McCabe 69), S. Delahunt (D Heffernan 62), C. Carey (Robertson-McCoy 62), U. Dillane, J. Cannon (G Thornbury 69), S. O’Brien (J Muldoon 23), J. Butler (capt), E. McKeon.

Referee:

Ben Whitehouse (WRU)

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