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Ospreys Slide To Defeat

jmcconnell 4 Nov 2004

And it was a try by former Swansea second row Andrew Farley that sparked an amazing second half revival by canny Connacht and helped condemn some of his former team mates to defeat.
Having been forced to play against the swirling wind at the Sportsground in Galway, the Irish never lost faith even when they found themselves 14 points adrift after 50 minutes and used their powerful pack to take yet another Welsh scalp.
Michael Bradley’s side are supposed to be the whipping boys among the four Irish provinces, but they followed up their 33-33 draw at Stradey Park last weekend with a three tries to two triumph that brought them a Celtic League double over the Ospreys.
No wonder Ospreys coach Lyn Jones was despondent at the end of the game. Having seen his side battle so well to beat Cardiff Blues at St Helen’s last weekend to strike a major psychological blow in the battle for Heineken Cup places next season, this was a real backward step.
With all three Welsh sides winning on Friday night, a solitary bonus point in defeat was scant compensation for Jones who now finds his side three points adrift of the Warriors, 11 behind the Dragons and 13 of the Scarlets.
With only Cardiff Blues below them, the end of the season is going to be a real dogfight for the Ospreys as they try to avert the drop into the Parker Pen Challenge Cup.
The ever reliable boot of Gavin Henson gave the Ospreys a flying start as he kicked the first of 11 points with a third minute penalty to open the scoring.
Home skipper Mark McHugh was quick to respond with a break through the middle after picking up a loose pass to cross for a try which he also converted.
A second Henson penalty cut the gap to a single point before back row man Steve Tandy burst up the blindside to cross for a try which restored the Ospreys to the lead.
Just before the break things got even better for the visitors when James Bater went round the narrow side of a ruck to score a try which Henson converted.
Henson added a third penalty nine minutes after the re-start to give the Ospreys a 14 point lead, but then came the turn around. They lost control of their line-out opportunity on the home line and then conceded17 points in the space of 10 minutes.
Farley’s close-range try was followed by a brilliant touchline conversion from McHugh, who also added a penalty for good measure.
Then No 8 John O’Sullivan followed Farley’s example by barging over from another five metre line-out and McHugh converted off the touchline again.
The Ospreys lost James Storey to the sin-bin for the final five minutes, yet still had a chance to win the game in the dying moments when Bater raced 40 metres.
But Connacht managed to kill the ball at the ruck, escape punishment and emerged with the victory.

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