Ospreys soaring again
Exiles denied even a losing bonus point
Last Updated: 16/10/10 10:14am
Shane Williams: brilliance
Ospreys are back in the hunt in a fiercely competitive Heineken Cup Pool 3 after a 27-16 victory over London Irish.
After a bitterly disappointing last-gasp defeat in Toulon last week, the Ospreys simply could not afford to lose and they rose to the occasion by seeing off the Premiership pacesetters.
And they denied London Irish even a losing bonus point, which may prove crucial - Ospreys and Munster both picked up a point in losing causes away from home in round one.
The hosts made almost the perfect start in front of a raucous Swansea crowd, James Hook breaking the line and timing his pass perfectly for Tommy Bowe to arrive at pace on the ball and race in to score, although Dan Biggar missed a very makeable conversion.
Irish hit back quickly due to Ospreys indiscipline, first when they were caught off their feet and then for an offside from a high bomb, Ryan Lamb striking two impressive penalties to edge the visitors ahead.
But the lead was a brief one as this time the Exiles were pinged for offside from their own high kick and Biggar kicked a penalty from five metres inside his own half.
Biggar was then penalised for back-chat, but Lamb hooked his kick wide and moments later Shane Williams burst clear from halfway and hurdled Topsy Ojo only for Keiran Roach to get back and prevent a try.
Ospreys were beginning to dominate and after forcing a five metre scrum, a second successive scrum penalty was turned into three points by Biggar.
From the re-start London Irish were caught off their feet at a ruck and Biggar stretched the lead to 14-16.
Lamb should have cut the deficit two minutes before the break but missed a simple kick and immediately Irish were again penalised for killing the ball and Biggar made them pay.
At 17-6 down London Irish needed to score first after the break and they managed it inside a minute. Ospreys were pressing on the right flank but Bowe's short pass was picked off by Sailosi Tagicakibau and the winger raced 70 metres - the last five with Hook hanging off his back - to score in the corner. Lamb converted and Irish were back in the contest.
But a moment of magic from Shane Williams swung the game Ospreys' way again - and this time it was for keeps.
The Wales winger chipped over the top from just outside his own 22, collected and shrugged off Lamb's attempted tackle, then sped away to score, with Hook converting in the injured Biggar's absence.
Moments later Topsy Ojo was caught hanging on in the tackle and Hook stretched the lead to 27-13.
Lamb cut it back to 11 points with 20 minutes left, but despite losing Jerry Collins to a yellow card with eight minutes left, Ospreys held on for a crucial win without much further alarm.