So London Irish ended their run of ten straight defeats – and the Ospreys ended their hopes of making it to the Heineken Cup quarter-finals, writes Rugby World Features Editor, Sarah Mockford.
The Exiles love to play rugby, to spread the ball wide and create space for each other. Often this season it has cost them but against the Ospreys it paid off. Delon Armitage enhanced his England claims by slicing through the Ospreys midfield seemingly at will and was involved twice in the move that led to Sailosi Tagicakibau’s early try.
The Ospreys had chances of their own, particularly from restarts, but they couldn’t make the pressure tell, even when the Exiles were down to 14 men late in the second half. Too often they drove forward on their own rather than in numbers and they couldn’t break through the Irish defence, which was immense throughout.
The same could not be said of the Ospreys, who were broken easily again in the first minute of the second half. Daniel Bowden split the midfield, passed out to Elvis Seveali’i and he put Topsy Ojo clean through to score under the posts.
From then on, the Ospreys were chasing the game and simply couldn’t keep in touch. Dan Biggar missed two penalty goals and when they moved James Hook to fly-half, in an attempt to play a more dangerous attacking game, they still couldn’t make it across the whitewash.
The Ospreys have already said this season that the Heineken Cup quarter-finals were their target – now they will have to focus on the Magners League as yet again they fail to live up to the expectations in Europe. And with no Welsh side able to qualify for the last eight, the Millennium Stadium will be offering no one home advantage for the final.
London Irish have finally got back to winning ways. Their back-line functioned very well and looked dangerous throughout, but it was their power in the forwards that saw them through. They competed well at the breakdown, won a few penalties at the scrum and their driving game was superb. They always attacked in numbers to overpower the Ospreys defence and did the same when they were on the back foot to prevent the Welsh side scoring.
Now they have their confidence back they will look to revive their Aviva Premiership ambitions.