By Rob Charbon
Dan Lydiate has told the Ospreys they must now build on their corner-turning victory over Castres and mount a European campaign like those of old.
The region ended the worst losing streak in their European history as they put the French club to the sword with a five star performance in a 39-15 win.
The Ospreys had lost their last nine European games, but hit back in style to get their 2020-21 campaign off to a flying start at the Liberty Stadium. It also proved to be an extra-special night for new Wales hooker Sam Parry, who marked his 100th game for the region with two of the five tries.
“To start the tournament with a win is massive and now it is all about building momentum,” said Dan Lydiate, who took over as captain when Justin Tipuric pulled out with a hip injury just before kick-off.
“They had a purple patch in the second half when they got a rumble on, but I was proud of the effort of the lads. You can see the youngsters coming through and it has been a pleasure playing with them.”
Good morning Ospreylia 😁
How about re-living some of last night’s action with the bonus point try from @DanEvs15 💪
— Ospreys (@ospreys) December 13, 2020
The hosts started the game on the front foot, with outside half Stephen Myler kicking two early penalties.
Thomas Fortunel halved the deficit after flanker Will Griffiths was guilty of not rolling away from a ruck.
Scrum-half Shaun Venter notched the opening score when the Ospreys showed real ambition to keep the ball alive with a series of well-timed passes and offloads. The final pass from Griffiths appeared to be forward, but it was not referred to the TMO.
Things went from bad to worse for Castres when wing Armand Batlle was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on when the hosts had a clear overlap on the left hand side. The Ospreys kicked to the corner and powered a driving maul over the line, with Parry the beneficiary and Myler adding the extras.
With the interval approaching, Ospreys were awarded a penalty after yet more Castres indiscipline and, after peeling off a maul five metres from the line, Parry reached out to score his second try.
Awesome being back out there with the boys,even better with a win & 5 points.Very proud to have made it to 100 @osoreys appearances. Made even more special having my good mate @dannylyds presenting me with my jersey.Thank you to everyone for the support & messages⚫️⚫️⚫️🦅 pic.twitter.com/uRx7EqvZXu
— Sam Parry (@SamParry2) December 13, 2020
The Top 14 outfit showed a greater appetite to play in the early stages of the second-half, and were rewarded for a period of sustained pressure inside Ospreys’ 22 when South African lock Ryno Pieterse bulldozed his way over from close range for his team’s first score, which Fortunel converted.
After weathering a Castres storm, Ospreys showed their attacking intent to cross for the bonus-point try with Griffiths putting Dan Evans in space down the left wing, and the full-back was able to keep his feet in-field to race in for the score.
Myler’s impressive conversion gave his team a comfortable cushion heading into the final 10 minutes.
Adrien Amans collected a cross-field kick to dot down on his first start for Castres, before replacement Luke Morgan had the final say after running through to gather Myler’s kick and cross for his side’s fifth try of the evening.
What a hero 🙌🏻 leading from the front as always https://t.co/7P5a1hQzp0
— Mat Protheroe (@MathProtheroe) December 12, 2020
Ospreys head coach Toby Booth was delighted to have broken the Euro hoodoo and got a win in his first game in charge in the Challenge Cup with his new team.
“We got a really good start and we know that in a short competition we needed to get that. It was a bit wobbly in the middle, but we finished well,” said Booth.