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Old School Muscle And New Speed Morgan Morse Gives Ospreys Enough To See Off Cardiff

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By David Williams

Toby Booth praised his “old school” Ospreys players after they beat Cardiff in a match that looked as if it was straight out of the 1980s.

The Ospreys coach was full of praise for the character shown by his players as they marked New Year’s Day 2024 with a game-plan that could have come from 40 years ago.

On a Brewery Field pitch in Bridgend that does not drain as quickly as some modern surfaces – but where not a single player was left with a nasty friction burn from the plastic surface – the Ospreys came from 18-5 down to win 27-21.

If it was a throwback win for the Swansea region, it was an up-to-date reality check for Cardiff.

They have been lauded for their adventure this season and their promotion of young players, but when they came up against streetwise, physical opposition, they were shown there is still a big gap between the Ospreys and the other three teams in Wales.

The Ospreys delivered a superb second half comeback, spearheaded by Wales U20s stars Morgan Morse and Dan Edwards, in a United Rugby Championship clash held in atrocious conditions.

Ospreys head coach Booth said: “It was an old-school game in an old-school environment and we’re absolutely delighted with the win, especially after being behind at half-time.

“We were naive in the first half and invited Cardiff’s kicking game but we had some pretty straight talking at the break, Owen Watkins’ 100th appearance was an emotional driver, and then our set-piece became a massive part of the game.

“In those conditions it was all about territory and keeping the ball in front of the forwards, and our game managers were impressive in doing that in the second half.”

Cardiff head coach Matt Sherratt admitted: “The first half went as well as it could but that was only half a job.

“The message was to do the same again but the 8-2 penalty count says it all.

“In those conditions, it was about territory, effort and discipline. The effort was there and we picked up another bonus point away to a good side.

“But silly penalties in the second half gave away territory and if you do that, you’re going to get punished.”

In truly awful weather conditions, Cardiff led 18-5 at half-time and appeared in control until a moment of magic from Morse in the 57th minute set the Ospreys on course for a bonus point victory.

An early second half Tinus de Beer penalty had edged Cardiff two scores clear and seemingly on their way to another victory but Morse had other ideas when a long clearance kick came his way near half way.

He skillfully blocked the ball with his foot before picking up the ball in greasy conditions with aplomb. He then exploded into action and beat four defenders on an arcing run before sliding over the line after a stunning 40m solo run.

Edwards’ conversion brought the Ospreys right back in it and six minutes later he put the Ospreys back in front with a short range penalty.

Alongside scrum half Luke Davies, Edwards then expertly kept his forwards on the front foot in demanding conditions with astute kicking.

His cunning sealed the deal with five minutes remaining when he chipped back against the grain for Keelan Giles to expertly stab the ball past Cameron Winnett for the winger to score his second try of the game.

Giles had earlier got the Ospreys off to a fine start when he touched down in the corner in the eighth minute before opposite number Owen Lane evened the score in the 15th minute.

Tearaway flanker Harri Deaves, who had already pilfered a couple of turnovers, injured himself trying to prevent the try and played no further part in the game.

Cardiff hit the lead for the first time when Mason Grady collected a Winnett up and under to canter 45m untouched to the try-line. Tinus de Beer’s conversion put the visitors 5-12 ahead.

Ospreys hooker Sam Parry was then caught offside by referee Adam Jones to give de Beer another easy three points to put Cardiff 5-15 ahead after 27mins.

The Ospreys defence began to creak, and they conceded another penalty at the breakdown for de Beer to extend Cardiff’s lead.

The Ospreys went back to basics in the second half. The home side used the heavy conditions to their advantage, kicking long to keep Cardiff deep inside their own half.

Nine minutes into the second half, the Ospreys drove towards the tryline but their maul was pulled down illegally.

Adam Jones instantly awarded a penalty try and sent James Botham to the sin bin for good measure.

De Beer’s.trusty boot put Cardiff out to two scores ahead in the 52nd minute but that was as good as it got for the visitors with the Ospreys young guns guiding the men in black to a hard fought victory.

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