Connacht 6 Ospreys 17
Matthew Morgan and Sonny Parker both touched down as the Ospreys extinguished Connacht’s fire in a closely-fought RaboDirect PRO12 clash at the Sportsground.
Despite missing 18 players due to international duty and injuries, the Welsh region still proved too strong for the hard-working but predictable home side.
Connacht had the advantage of a gusting wind in the opening half but trailed 10-6 at the break, with teenage out-half Morgan slicing through for the Ospreys’ first try.
Morgan’s opposite number Miah Nikora booted his second penalty to close the gap to four points, however Parker’s 62nd-minute effort sealed the win for the table toppers.
The Ospreys forced the early pace, with Tommy Bowe and Richard Fussell probing for openings in midfield. Connacht’s defence was unyielding and typified by man-and-ball tackles from David McSharry and Brian Tuohy.
Connacht steadily found their feet in attack and Paul O’Donohoe just knocked on as he tried to make it over in the left corner under pressure from Rhys Webb and Richard Hibbard.
Moments earlier, Nikora had misjudged the strong wind when looking to open the scoring from a left-sided penalty.
The deadlock was broken in the 16th minute when Nikora punished league debutant Chauncey O’Toole for a ruck offence.
David Gannon was penalised for a similar infringement four minutes later, and Morgan’s driven effort from close range split the posts.
With seven minutes left before half-time, Webb blitzed past Brett Wilkinson and up into the Connacht 22, offloading for Morgan to brilliantly dance around Gavin Duffy and race in behind the posts.
He comfortably converted his own try and although Nikora replied shortly afterwards, Hibbard fumbled a pass out wide when the Ospreys looked set to add a second try late on.
The visitors’ scrum was growing in influence with prop Duncan Jones, celebrating his 150th appearance for the region, putting Rodney Ah You under a good deal of pressure.
Connacht were the aggressors when the second half got under way, a series of penalties getting them into try-scoring range before Ian Gough was yellow carded after infringing at a maul.
But Eric Elwood’s men had nothing to show for their period of dominance and Morgan failed with a long range penalty as the Ospreys finally got out of their own half.
It took a charging run from man of the match Jones to ignite their attack and when play was switched back into midfield, Andrew Bishop and Fussell unlocked the home defence for replacement Parker to stride in behind the posts.
Morgan converted and the Welshmen frustrated Connacht in their 22 before Duffy had to come to his side’s rescue, bringing down Hanno Dirksen as the Ospreys replacement blew a glorious chance to set up a late try.