Ospreys v Edinburgh: visitors foiled despite Venter hat-trick

High error count contributes to loss as Mike Blair's side surrender 11-point half-time lead

Boan Venter scored an injury-time try to secure a draw for Edinburgh versus Scarlets. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
A Boan Venter hat-trick was not enough to prevent Edinburgh from slumping to defeat by the Ospreys in Swansea. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Ospreys 23

Edinburgh 19

TOO many chances missed, too many opportunities presented to their opponents. For long enough Edinburgh appeared to be on course for a first win in Swansea since 2009, but in the end those twin problems meant that – despite Boan Venter’s hat-trick of tries – they headed home with only a losing bonus point.

There were, as ever, mitigating circumstances. Deprived of most of his Scotland internationals, Mike Blair had to change roughly half his squad, and some unfamiliar combinations meant that this performance was well short of the silky running rugby we have come to expect this season. Even so, the head coach was in no mood to offer excuses after this second league defeat of the season, which saw his team surrender a 14-3 half-time lead.

“We are really disappointed,” Blair said. “We had the upper hand with the Ospreys not challenging us when playing from deeper, so I was disappointed that in the second half we gave them some easy ins.

“There were elements through the game we could have done better. We gave too many penalties away and could have been penalised for a couple of others as well.

“It does not come down to one thing, but I thought we had found weaknesses in the opposition but did not stick to that. It can be a bit mixed when you have guys coming back in but that is not an excuse. We had a team out there which could have won the game, but we did not execute.”

Ospreys had the bulk of possession – and the edge in the scrum – during the opening stages of the game. But Edinburgh defended confidently then steadily became more assertive in attack, with Fijian forward Mesu Kunavula being used to good effect as a battering ram.

As we approached the midway stage of the half, a good chase of a Matt Currie kick through by Darcy Graham forced the home side to concede a scrum five, then Ospreys lock Lloyd Ashley was sent to the sinbin for obstruction. The penalty went to touch, and after some patient short-distance drives, Venter forced his way over, and Jaco van der Walt added the conversion.

Having taken the lead at last, Edinburgh wasted no time in doubling it. A lineout close to halfway gave them a big platform, Cammy Hutchison made the half-break, and Kunavula took it on. Venter then finished off, getting the ball not far inside the 22 and using his sheer power to see off the efforts of three Ospreys defenders.

Van der Walt was on target again, but with Ashley still off the field, Stephen Myler opened the Ospreys’ account after Henry Pyrgos had been penalised for holding on to the ball too long. Edinburgh came close to a third try when Glen Young and Darcy Graham combined, but the defence got back just in time to mop up after the lock and the winger over-complicated matters.

The Ospreys’ morale took a big boost from that, and with Ashley back on, they finished the half on the front foot. A penalty to touch gave them a big chance to reduce the deficit just before the break, but Edinburgh defended the maul well to thwart them. 

However, that defence did not look so clever in the opening minutes of the second half as the Ospreys got the try that had eluded them in the first 40. A penalty to touch gave them good position, and eventually Mat Protheroe finished off, with Myler converting to make it 10-14. 

Edinburgh needed to reimpose themselves on the contest, but Graham just failed to score in the corner from a midfield punt. Then, after Kunavula was penalised, Ospreys went ahead, with hooker Sam Parry finishing off a cute lineout move. Myler added the extras, and Edinburgh had a big fight on their hands.

They fought back, all right, and within minutes Venter completed his hat-trick from close range after sustained pressure on the Ospreys line. Van der Walt’s conversion attempt was charged down as the home side showed they were not going to give up on the game easily.

There were still more than 10 minutes to go when Myler’s second penalty made it 20-19, and more than five when the stand-off scored his third award. Edinburgh had what would have been a late chance for an assault on the line, but Emiliano Boffelli kicked a penalty dead rather than finding a safe touch. 

Scorers: Ospreys: Tries: Protheroe, Parry. Cons: Myler 2. Pens: Myler 3.

Edinburgh: Tries: Venter 3. Cons: Van der Walt 2.

Scoring sequence (Ospreys first): 0-5, 0-7, 0-12, 0-14, 3-14 half-time, 8-14, 10-14, 15-14, 17-14, 17-19, 20-19, 23-19.

Ospreys: M Protheroe; K Giles (G Anscombe 52), M Collins, K Williams (T Thomas-Wheeler 75), L Morgan; S Myler, R Webb (captain); N Smith (R Jones 64), S Parry (E Taione 64), T Botha (R Henry 64), R Davies, L Ashley (H Sutton 78), W Griffiths, H Deaves (M Morris 52), E Roots. 

Edinburgh: H Immelman; D Graham, T Currie (M Bennett 62), C Hutchison, E Boffelli; J van der Walt, H Pyrgos (captain, B Vellacott 62); B Venter (H Courtney 73), D Cherry (A McBurney 47), A Williams (L Atalifo 47), M Sykes (J Hodgson 47), G Young, M Bradbury, C Boyle, M Kunavula (B Muncaster 64). 

Yellow card: Ospreys: Ashley 23.

Referee: A Piardi (Italy).

 


The world of Scottish Rugby and beyond according to Mark Dodson

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Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

7 Comments

  1. Oh dear, there was a few turning points for me, 1st we were on for our 3rd try and Protheroe knocked on under their posts (starting to think I imagined it) but they got a penalty for holding on. 2nd Jaco’s conversion attempt, not only did they charge that down but they put him on his backside as well. That fired up the crowd and knocked the stuffing out of him. Is there a reason why Boffelli isn’t kicking goals. 3rd Boffelli’s touch finder, he bit off a little too much. Edinburgh have came on massively this year but we need to learn to close out the away matches like this, the Benetton game and the Irish game. Also well done to Glasgow, they were fantastic yesterday.

  2. Completely butchered a simple try that would have put them 21-3 up.
    Should still have romped to a bonus point win, but far too sloppy.
    Why do we always get beaten by crap Welsh sides, club and international?
    On the up side Glasgow had a very good win – eventually!

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  3. Oh dear, there was a few turning points for me, 1st we were on for our 3rd try and Protheroe knocked on under their posts (starting to think I imagined it) but they got a penalty for holding on. 2nd Jaco’s conversion attempt, not only did they charge that down but they put him on his backside as well. That fired up the crowd and knocked the stuffing out of him. Is there a reason why Boffelli isn’t kicking goals. 3rd Boffelli’s touch finder, he bit off a little too much. Edinburgh have came on massively this year but we need to learn to close out the away matches like this, the Benetton game and the Irish game. Also well done to Glasgow, they were fantastic yesterday.

  4. It was particularly surprising how passive Blair was in making changes to the team on the pitch and to a misfiring game plan. It was clear before half time that it wasn’t working yet he did nothing to drive change. Poor both on and off the pitch yesterday.

  5. A real wake -up game. Playing the highest ranked team we have faced this season. Plenty of lessons to be learned in defeat, particularly for the coaching team about the deapth of the squad. There were a few anonymous performances, but at least they were better than some of the more ‘senior’ assets. The game plan – back to box kicking – didn’t work out. Jaco had a difficult day at the office, Hutchison made good yards again, not sure who was outside him. The back three grafted but the fluency of passing was absent. Up front, we seemed a bit short-handed with Bradbury and Kunavula a struggling against the tide. Hopefully we can go to school on this and come back better for the next game. There a lot of games against highly ranked teams in the second half of the season but we can still compete.

    • as Blair pointed out what worked first half didn’t second half.
      Van der Walt just isn’t good enough, there is no control – despite overwhelming possession and territory – and when he stayed on but Pyrgos taken off it really went to pot.
      The no control VDW and the rabbit in headlights Vellacott against a stuffy team, who attempt little more than to squeeze the opposition with a less than world renowned pack; and many more players unavailable than Edinburgh.

      • I just can’t understand why Blair kept Savala on the bench when VDW was so poor and you could see the game slipping away.

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