Toby Booth Ospreys

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 3: Toby Booth head coach of Ospreys looks on during the warming up prior to the United Rugby Championship match between Ospreys and Sharks at The Stoop on November 3, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Gaspafotos/MB Media/Getty Images)

Routine Derby Win For Ospreys Highlights Scarlets’ Sad Decline

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By David Parsons

Toby Booth declared it a case of “job done” after his Ospreys team earned a routine 25-11 derby victory over the Scarlets.

The Boxing Day clash was the first time the Ospreys had won at Llanelli since 2015, but the over-riding feeling was, why had it taken them so long?

The Scarlets have won just two out of 10 matches in all competitions this season and they were well beaten by the end of a one-sided second-half.

Booth’s team have now earned the double over their rivals this season and the head coach said: “”It was a very spirited and confrontational game.

“We were messy in the first half and we spoke at half-time about cleaning some of that up and let the emotion of the occasion subside.

“Once we managed to do that, we were more accurate and got the crucial 10-point advantage and push on from there, which was pleasing.”

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said: “In the first half, territorially, we were pretty dominant and did not finish with points we could have which was disappointing.

“There were large periods of the game that were better from us but inaccuracy was a problem.”

Unlike the other Welsh regional derby earlier in the day at the Arms Park, where there were 12 tries in Cardiff’s game against the Dragons, tries and points were at a premium in a good old fashioned arm-wrestle.

It was 0-0 at the break with everything to play for in the second half.

That’s when the Ospreys pack turned on the power and the visitors conjured up three tries to take the win.

The home side’s cause wasn’t helped by Wales hopeful Ioan Lloyd missing with three penalty attempts in the opening 40 minutes.

The deadlock was eventually broken two minutes into the second half when scrum half Gareth Davies snapped up a loose ball just inside his own half as the Ospreys tried to move the ball wide and he raced all the way to the line to score.

Once again, Lloyd missed with his wide-angled conversion, but at least the home side, who had been beaten by the Georgian side Black Lion 23-9 in their last outing, were ahead.

The Ospreys had been on the back foot for much of the first half, but their tigerish defence kept them in the contest and after the break they were able to build pressure of their own.

They eventually hit the front in the 50th minute when scrum half Reuben Morgan-Williams dived over after his forwards had laid siege to the Scarlets try line.

Owen Williams added the extras and then landed a penalty to make it 10-5. The Wales outside half then dropped into the pocket to land a crucial drop goal six minutes later to push his side more than a single score ahead.

It was still a very tight contest and the Ospreys put themselves under pressure when Owen Watkin picked up a yellow card in the 70th minute as Craig Evans ran out of patience with the number of offences from the visitors. This time Lloyd hit the target to cut the gap to five points.

There was all to play for in the final 10 minutes, but the Scarlets couldn’t make their extra man work for them. Instead, they lost returning skipper Josh Macleod to the sin-bin in the 73rd minute for a no arms tackle.

That allowed the Ospreys to pop the ball into the corner and work replacement hooker Sam Parry over for their second try. Owen Williams couldn’t convert, and only a wonder tackle by Luke Morgan stopped Ben Williams from scoring in the corner.

Lloyd kicked a second penalty to make it 18-11 with the clock showing 80 minutes. That looked as though it had earned the Scarlets a losing bonus-point but as they tried to break out of their 22 in the last play of the game, a pass from Johnny Williams to Tom Rogers hit the deck.

Quick as a flash, Jack Walsh nipped in to scoop up the loose ball and race 22 metres to the line. Owen Williams converted to complete the victory.

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