DFP Header Area

Throwback Thursday: Ospreys 16 Connacht 21

Charlie Talbot-Smith

5 Jan 2017

At the halfway stage of this Guinness PRO12 season the Ospreys are riding high while defending champions Connacht face a battle to crack the top six.

But the roles were reversed last season as Pat Lam’s side stormed to a fairytale title while the Welsh region never really recovered from a slow start and missed out on a top-six berth.

The two sides meet again at the Liberty Stadium this coming Saturday so for our step back in time this week – we go back to October 24 2015 to watch Connacht lay down a marker for their magical season to come.

A WARNING SHOT 

Lam’s side had come roaring out of the blocks in the league with three wins from their first four, but few made them serious title contenders.

This was after all a side that had never made the PRO12 play-offs before, let alone lifted the silverware at the end of it all.

But their win at the Liberty Stadium in October certainly quietened a few doubters and served notice of their true potential.

They had not won at the home of the Ospreys in 11 years but a superb display from their talisman Bundee Aki – the eventual Guinness PRO12 players’ player of the season proved pivotal as the Ospreys were powerless in the face of the men from Galway.

bundee650

BOUNCING BACK

The Ospreys had made a sluggish start to their domestic 2015/16 season, losing three of their first four games.

But it was they who hit the front in this clash at the Liberty Stadium after Jack Carty and Sam Davies had exchanged early penalties.

A lovely flowing backs move down the left involving some sweet offloading from Eli Walker and Josh Matavesi released Dan Baker and the No 8 had enough pace to beat the cover and slide over for the opening score.

Davies missed with the extras but the Ospreys were in front and looked the favourites to stamp their authority on proceedings.

BUNDEE’S THE BUSINESS

But they had not counted on the all-action skillset of centre Aki who got Connacht on the front foot in the first half with a fine break from around the ruck.

And with the try line at their mercy, Matavesi was forced to concede a penalty with hands in at the breakdown and the men from Galway turned the screw.

It did not take long to make their numerical advantage count as Healy cantered over untouched down the left from a five-metre scrum – the Guinness PRO12 top try scorer showing just how potent he was that season.

And after the interval it was that man Aki at it again, the centre muscling and stretching his way over from close range for a try that put clear daylight between them and the Ospreys.

There was still time for replacement Justin Tipuric to go over for the hosts but the boot of Craig Ronaldson kept them at bay and they held on for an historic victory – only their second in their last 15 games against their Welsh opponents.