The Ospreys were thumped 45-15 by the Lions in Johannesburg on Friday night.
Both teams probed in the early exchanges but it was the Lions who struck first in the United Rugby Championship clash. Toby Booth’s side were initially let off the hook when Jordan Hendrikse missed a simple penalty but they were soon stood under their own posts.
A minute later, impressive Lions skipper Burger Odendaal breezed through some lacklustre Ospreys defence before offloading inside to Morne van den Berg. He threw a sharp pass to winger Sibahle Maxwane, who rounded Josh Thomas in the 11th minute to score the game’s opening try. Hendrikse made no mistake from the tee this time.
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The Welsh side, appearing to struggle with the altitude, were unable to subject their hosts to sustained pressure. On the occasions where they were able to generate momentum, they stuck with their narrow attacking approach, using runners off scrum-half Rhys Webb instead of looking for space in wider channels.
They did hit back through a Josh Thomas penalty around the half hour mark but were not able to build on it. Instead, the Lions drove home their dominance.
The Ospreys seemed to be defending relatively comfortably before their hosts went wide and centre Odendaal identified a mismatch before carving outside hooker Sam Parry. He popped inside to van den Berg, who cantered in for his first. Hendrikse’s conversion made it 14-3 at half time.
The Lions really delivered a hammer blow straight after the break. Maxwane did real damage with a break down the near side, taking play deep into the Ospreys’ 22.
The South Africans then went to their big runners and hammered away at the line. Despite the Ospreys standing firm for a handful of phases, a try looked inevitable and it was flanker Francke Horn who dived over before Hendrikse converted.
There was a glimmer of hope for the Welsh side 10 minutes into the second half, though. Showing some attacking ambition for the first time, they were able to cause the Lions problems in a move that eventually ended with Webb sniping over and Thomas converting.
Five minutes later, though, the Lions hit back with their bonus point try. The Welsh side looked out on their feet, struggling with the altitude and the intent that their hosts were playing with. Two offloads cut the Ospreys to pieces and suddenly there were huge gaps all over the pitch. Van den Berg was on hand to receive a scoring pass for his second simple qrun-in of the night and Hendrikse added the extras.
Just after the hour mark, Michael Collins scored against the run of play, intercepting a pass to score from 40 metres out. Thomas missed the conversion but it was never going to impact the final score and the Lions really went to town in the closing 15 minutes.
Replacement Manuel Rass scored the first of three tries in the closing period after more relentless pressure from the hosts. Then speedster Edwill van der Merwe picked up turnover ball and gassed Luke Morgan – something of a rarity – to score his side’s sixth try with ten minutes remaining.
And there was still time for replacement scrum-half Andre Warner to rub salt into the wound with a try three minutes from time. Rounding off a heavy defeat for the Ospreys.
The Welsh regions are now winless in five matches on South African soil this season after the Scarlets and Cardiff Rugby lost both their games in the last fortnight.
Tries: Sibahle Maxwane (11), Morne van den Berg (38, 54), Franke Horn (43), Manuel Rass (67), Edwill van der Merwe (70), Andre Warner (77)
Cons: Jordan Hendrikse (12, 39, 44, 55, 78)
Tries: Rhys Webb (49), Michael Collins (63)
Cons: Josh Thomas (50)
Pens: Josh Thomas (30)