Throwback Thursday: Ospreys comeback denied by Dragons

Peter White
02 January 2020

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While Christmas may be over for another year, the mouth-watering action continues in the Guinness PRO14 with Dragons v Ospreys one of four scintillating Round 10 derbies set to light up the New Year.

The Swansea-based side reign supreme as far as the historical statistics go, with 22 wins from 32 clashes against their Welsh rivals, with Dragons victorious on 10 occasions.

But the two teams are enduring largely different fortunes in the current campaign, with eight defeats from nine fixtures so far representing a miserable season for Ospreys, who sit at the foot of Conference A.

Under Dean Ryan, Dragons look somewhat rejuvenated this time out and, six points ahead of Ospreys with three wins to their name so far, they will be looking to emulate their thrilling win over the four-time champions back in April 2011.


Well positioned in third in the table, Ospreys were firmly in the running to secure a play-off spot, but knew victory against their Newport-based rivals would provide a welcome boost to their credentials with only three games of the regular season left to play.

But with a draw at home to Cardiff Blues and defeat at Edinburgh in their last two domestic fixtures, Ospreys boss Scott Johnson knew his side were in for a tough match against Dragons, who were fresh from an impressive 33-10 win over Benetton at Rodney Parade.

Under the guidance of new coach Darren Edwards, Dragons – who had beaten high-flying Munster earlier in the season – fancied their chances to complete the double over their close rivals for the first time, despite being without injured Wales lock Luke Charteris.

And Ospreys were similarly under-strength, with wantaway scrum-half Mike Phillips a notable omission from a squad hoping to return from their short trip east with the points in tow.


The visitors were first to strike through the boot of Dan Biggar, but Dragons hit back impressively to pull away from their high-flying opponents.

Scrum-half Wayne Evans launched a pulsating counter-attack following a turnover, before the ball fell to Taulupe Faletau, who evaded James Hook and Lee Byrne, and Ashley Smith went over for a stylish score.

Former Wales captain Ryan Jones bulldozed over for Ospreys in reply, but Jason Tovey restored the home side’s lead with a mid-range penalty before adding another, only for Biggar to close the gap to leave everything to play for in the second half.

But Dragons burst out of the blocks after the interval, Evans diving over before Aled Brew latched on to a sumptuous Tovey kick to beat Tommy Bowe to the ball and dot down.

Brew then grabbed his second of the day in similar fashion, handing Dragons the bonus point and seemingly the victory with less than an hour played.


In true champions’ style however, Ospreys weren’t ready to lie down and Bowe was first to strike for the visitors, making amends for his earlier mistake by reducing his side’s deficit.

Nikki Walker then got in on the act after a clever take from a Hook cross-kick, as Ospreys pushed for a vital score to complete their courageous comeback.

But despite a series of attacking scrums and relentless Ospreys pressure on the home line, Dragons defended resolutely and capitalised on a mistake to kick a penalty into touch and seal 32-28 victory.

While the momentous encounter damaged Ospreys’ top-four hopes, they still went on to qualify for the play-offs, eventually losing to Munster in the semi-finals.

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