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Ospreys 24 – 28 Newcastle Falcons: Welsh region dumped out of Europe after disappointing defeat

Maybe if we all return a hundred years from now the Ospreys will still be finding the going tough in Europe.

They have never really got to grips with its challenges, not even when they had their superstar squad of more than a decade ago.

But they’d been expected to progress here.

They fielded a powerful side against European Challenge Cup opponents who arrived occupying a modest 10th position in the Gallagher Premiership.

But the script went badly wrong for the Welsh team as Dean Richards’ men eased to victory.

They hit back after trailing 14-0 early on after home tries through Keiran Williams and Dan Evans.

Trevor Davison and Sean Robinson piled over for touchdowns and there was a penalty try with the Ospreys down in numbers after yellow cards for Justin Tipuric and Adam Beard.

Phillip van der Walt also crossed for the English club, while Tom Botha went over for the Ospreys.

But it was Newcastle who prevailed.

In Michael Young and Brett Connon they had half-backs who ran the show, while hooker George McGuigan stood out up front.

For the hosts, Justin Tipuric and Morgan Morris were the pick, but the Ospreys lacked control in key areas, with Young and Connon handing out a lesson in game-management.  

The first half was all over the place as the sides turned around level at 14-14.

Ospreys started as if on a mission to reprise the Barbarians’ grand Easter Saturday traditions, throwing the ball around with backs and forwards interpassing and the opposition defence not quite knowing what day it was.

The first try came on nine minutes after a surging run down the left from Williams. The ball was swung right, then back the other way with Owen Watkin, Ma’afu Fia, Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric featuring. Fia’s soft hands, in particular, were just sublime. The man’s a prop for heaven’s sake.



Dan Evans crosses for Ospreys’ second try against Newcastle Falcons in Swansea

With Newcastle stretched to breaking point, all that remained was for Luke Price to put Williams over.

Four minutes later, the Ospreys were at it again as Keelan Giles sped clear, again down the left, before putting in a kick over the top which Watkin gathered ahead of sending Evans across.

It couldn’t last.

As the half wore on, the Ospreys became increasingly wasteful, with line-outs being lost and the ball hitting the deck too often in attack.

Their scrum also began to hit problems as Newcastle sensed vulnerability.

When Tipuric was yellow carded for a no-arms tackle, the visitors pounced for a forward score through Davison. Then, with alarm bells ringing in the home defence, Newcastle were awarded a penalty try after Beard was adjudged to have dropped a maul.

It looked a harsh call, and Beard looked disgusted.

If French referee Ludovic Cayre is the recipient of an Easter card from the big lock it will be a surprise.

Such is life.

The Ospreys needed to get back to full numbers and rediscover themselves.

But Newcastle were not finished in making the Welsh team pay for their indiscipline, with lock Robinson crossing after a flowing move down the right.

That made it 21-14 to the English club, all the English points arriving during the yellow cards.

Tipuric thought he had scored a try, courtesy of a scything break from Morris, only for the officials to spot a forward pass from Price.

Van der Walt and Botha exchanged scores, setting up a potentially exciting finish, but, as such things go, this one didn’t really deliver, with Newcastle showing quality game-management to see the game out.

The Ospreys couldn’t get their hands on the ball.

Ultimately, a shaky line-out, indiscipline, needless mistakes and failure to keep their boot on opposition throats cost them.

They still have lessons to learn in Europe.

Ospreys

Tries: K. Williams, D. Evans, T. Botha.

Cons: L. Price (3).

Pen: L. Price.

Newcastle

Tries: T. Davison, pen try, S. Robinson, P. Van der Walt.

Cons: B. Connon (3).

...

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