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URC Week 10 review: Edwards the hero as Ospreys clinch last gasp win

19 Feb 2024 11 minute read
Dan Edwards celebrates his winning drop goal with teammates. Photo ©INPHO/Ashley Crowden

Simon Thomas

Edwards the Ospreys hero

Ospreys coach Toby Booth paid a glowing tribute to his match-winning “quarterback” Dan Edwards following the dramatic 19-17 victory over Ulster Rugby in Swansea.

Fly-half Edwards landed a 30 metre drop goal in the 80th minute to snatch the spoils and was then engulfed by his delirious team-mates.

Giving the lowdown on the last-gasp finale, Booth revealed: “The good thing about that whole episode really was the fact that Dan initiated the whole thing.

“We obviously have a drop goal routine for exactly those moments. But it’s one thing having it, it’s another thing doing it.

“Ultimately, the quarterback is the quarterback and to have the self-belief and also the skill and execution to do it, those pressure moments are really important.

“One of our buzz phrases is we talk about going all in and Dan went all in. That’s a great example of that.

“He is developing into a fine player.”

Trailing 7-6 at half-time, the Ospreys had forwards Morgan Morse and James Ratti yellow carded in the third quarter and were down to 13 men at one stage.

They still managed to take the lead through a thrilling breakaway try from centre Keiran Williams, only for Ulster to go back in front four minutes from time thanks to a long-range penalty from fly-half Jake Flannery.

But then came the dramatic conclusion and Edwards’ decisive drop goal.

The 20-year-old, who signed a new contract last week, said: “I’ve got to give full credit to the pack. I thought they were brilliant and really drove it.

“There were a lot of times in that game we could have just fallen away. It’s a great result for us. I thought we were outstanding.”

Booth added: “We found a way and the boys should take massive credit for that.”

That’s now five wins on the trot in all competitions for the Ospreys who are up to seventh in the BKT URC table.

Special occasion at Arms Park

Connacht Rugby coach Pete Wilkins hailed the best atmosphere he had ever experienced at the Arms Park following his team’s hard fought 16-12 victory over Cardiff Rugby.

It was an emotional occasion at the famous old ground amid a moving pre-match tribute to Wales and Lions legend Barry John who passed away at the age of 79 earlier this month.

Barry John’s boots and shirt as part of a tribute to the Welsh rugby great (Credit: S4C)

Members of his family and former Cardiff team-mates lined up on the pitch as a minute’s silence was followed by a minute’s applause, with Sir Gareth Edwards laying out a jersey in memory of his long-time half-back partner.

It was also regional clubs day, with some 3,700 junior players, coaches and supporters from 47 community clubs in attendance as part of a 12,000 full house.

The packed crowd saw Cardiff overcome a 14th minute red card to centre Rey Lee Lo and a subsequent yellow for No 8 Lopeti Timani to lead going into the final quarter thanks to tries from Ben Thomas and Timani, with Player of the Match Thomas Young delivering an inspired display at openside flanker.

But Connacht’s mounting pressure finally told with replacement prop Peter Dooley claiming what proved to be the decisive converted score in their first win at the Arms Park since February 2017.

Reflecting on the occasion, Wilkins said: “You often have a minute’s silence or a minute’s applause. It’s the nature of life unfortunately.

“But knowing the significance of Barry John in this part of the world and the respect for him, we knew it would be huge.

“Often you see the response not just from the team you are playing against but the whole feel of the place and it was definitely like that.

“I’ve never seen it as full as this here and the atmosphere was just terrific. They are the sort of environments you get excited about competing in. It’s obviously tough when you are up against it, but it’s a brilliant advert for rugby and for Cardiff as a club.

“You had a really passionate home crowd on a massive occasion for this club which we have so much respect for.

“It’s the best atmosphere I have ever experienced here at the Arms Park. It was tremendous.

“You had the spirit shown by the Cardiff side, the occasion in terms of everything that was going on around it and I think the red card added even more fire to their belly.

“So I was delighted to win it. In seven years with Connacht, I have never won here. It’s a tough place to come and play.”

Giving his thoughts on the turn-out, Cardiff head coach Matt Sherratt said: “I can’t thank the supporters enough.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen a packed Arms Park in a Six Nations period where there is a lot of rugby going on.

“The players are showing their spirit, but our fans are showing their spirit as well. It genuinely makes a huge difference to the players. Pre-match, you can smell it in the changing room.”

On the game itself, he said: “We’ve got 12 in the Wales squad, we’ve got a couple of injuries, we had Connacht coming here pretty much fully loaded bar two, we are down to 14 men after 15 minutes.

“A lot of teams would have rolled over and taken 50 points there, but that’s not this Cardiff team.

“I still thought we could have won the game with 14. It’s hard because I know what the players have put into it.

“It was a pretty dejected changing room, if I am honest. We are in the game to win, so of course you are disappointed straight after.

“But you go down a man, you play 65 minutes against a good team and you get a point, it may be a point gained rather than four lost.”

Cardiff have now picked up eight bonus points this season, the joint most in the league along with the Emirates Lions.

Geed-up Leinster out on top

A half-time gee-up did the trick for Leinster Rugby as they beat Benetton Rugby 47-18 in Saturday afternoon’s top-of-the-table clash at the RDS.

They held a narrow 21-18 lead at the break, but then rattled up 26 unanswered points as they finished with seven tries in all, skipper Scott Penny crossing twice from the openside flank.

Head coach Leo Cullen commented: “We were sluggish at the very start and parts of the first half were not quite there.

“The lads had a bit of a gee-up at half time. It was a bit chaotic in the second half, but at least there was better intent overall. We were definitely better and scored some good tries.

“Benetton are a very physical team. They recruit pretty well. It was always going to be a tough challenge. Overall we’re pleased.

“It was nice and composed when we got into the 22 and we came away with seven tries in the end. It was great to do that because it’s not like it was the easiest conditions out there as well.”

The bonus point victory took Leinster back to the top of the table, with the Vodacom Bulls having briefly moved into pole position thanks to their 25-10 win away to the Lions in Johannesburg.

In the other South African derby, the DHL Stormers also won on the road, beating the Hollywoodbets Sharks 25-21 in Durban.

The weekend’s action had got underway on Friday night with two further away victories

Munster Rugby romped to a 42-7 win over the Scarlets in west Wales, while Edinburgh Rugby came from behind to defeat Zebre Parma 24-19 out in Italy having been trailing with just 12 minutes to go.

Edinburgh’s Player of the Match Viliame Mata said: “We came here knowing Zebre were going to give it their all, with home advantage, and it was really tough. We struggled a bit through a lack of execution, but we got the win away from home.”

It was a much more comfortable triumph for Scotland’s other side as Glasgow Warriors claimed a bonus point 40-7 victory over the Dragons at Scotstoun to go second in the table.

Their coach Franco Smith said: “I am very happy with the win and I thought we played some good rugby at times.

“There is a long season ahead. June is a long time away. So there is a lot of rugby to be played.”

Match of the weekend

Hollywoodbets Sharks 21, DHL Stormers 25

A bumper crowd of 31,093 watched a titanic tussle that built towards a grandstand finish in Durban.

It was three tries apiece with Springboks hooker Bongi Mbonambi crossing five minutes from time for the Sharks to set up a tense conclusion.

In the end, it was the boot of Sacha Feinburg-Mngomezulu that proved the difference with the Stormers centre having landed four shots at goal.

That’s now six wins on the trot for the team from Cape Town in all competitions.

Their coach John Dobson said: “Credit to the Sharks organisation for laying on this occasion.

“They never stopped coming and put us under pressure for a large part of the second half.

“We were lucky to get away with that one towards the end I think, that’s the truth.

“If we didn’t get a win that would probably be us in terms of trying to host anything later on in the tournament.”

Player of the weekend

Gavin Coombes

The Munster No 8 is the leading carrier in the BKT URC and he was at it again during Friday night’s 42-7 runaway win over the Scarlets.

He repeatedly crossed the gain-line and twice crossed the try line with unstoppable short-range surges. As if that was not enough, he was also his team’s top tackler with 16.

His two touchdowns followed up his brace in the victory over the Crusaders a fortnight ago, taking his try tally for his province to a remarkable 42 from 88 appearances.

Quote of the weekend

Glasgow’s two-try full-back Josh McKay on his choice of socks for the URC Origin round at home to the Dragons:

“I had a bit of a howler. Obviously I am from New Zealand and Kaiapoi, where I am from, is ages away, so I had to dig out some of Johnny Matthews’ Everton Toffee socks!

“The only reason I have got them on is they are the exact same colour, the same blue, the same gold. The only difference is the Kaiapoi socks have two gold hoops, but I can make do with one!

“Johnny’s already adopted me as a Toffee. I mean they are the same colour socks, so I’m not complaining. Happy days!”

What’s coming up next?

The BKT URC action will resume on the first weekend in March when we head into Round 11.

It’s odds on that the biggest crowd will be in Pretoria for the meeting between the third-placed Bulls and the Stormers, who are now up to sixth.

Looking ahead to that derby clash, Stormers coach John Dobson said: “It will be an absolute epic.

“I think there will be a lot in that game, a lot of passion, a great occasion.

“I presume it will be a pretty full Loftus. It’s a brilliant thing for South African rugby.”

There will be a further Rainbow Nation encounter in Johannesburg where the Lions will host the Sharks, with both teams looking to bounce back from derby defeats in Round 10.

Elsewhere, leaders Leinster will travel to the Arms Park to take on Cardiff, while second-placed Glasgow head for Treviso to face Benetton who are now down to fourth after their loss in Dublin.

In the other games, Edinburgh entertain the buoyant Ospreys, with Munster, Connacht and Ulster home to Zebre, the Scarlets and the Dragons respectively.


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