Ospreys 45 – 20 Connacht

It was a disappointing conclusion to the 2013/14 season as Connacht were defeated 45 – 20 by a resolute Ospreys side who were left reeling from their defeat to Zebre last week that kept them out of a PRO12 playoff spot.

Six tries for the hosts versus Connacht’s three was enough to seal a comprehensive win for the fifth placed Welsh side.

Connacht’s left-footed outhalf Miah Nikora opened the scoring after three minutes when the visitors were awarded a penalty from a collapsed Ospreys scrum.

Less than 10 minutes later, Man of the Match Sam Lewis showed his flair by turning ove Connacht ball at the ruck and offloading to winger Jeff Hassler who ran down the line and fought off a late challenge to touch down. Wales outhalf Dan Biggar added the conversion to give his side the lead.

Five minutes later, Connacht got the chance to respond when Ospreys captain Alun Wyn Jones was penalised for deliberately knocking the ball out of play. Full back Darragh Leader pinged the opposition back with a long-range kick to touch. From the resulting lineout, the ball went back to Nikora who’s cross field kick found Danie Poolman. Under pressure, the South African winger offloaded to the supporting Leader who ran over for the try and restored Connacht’s early lead. Nikora’s conversion attempt went wide to the left of the posts to leave Connacht just one point ahead.

Centre Ashley Beck got in for his side’s second try thanks to a quick offload from Sam Davies and Biggar’s conversion made it 14 – 8. The ensuing 10 minutes were dominated by the hosts who increased their lead with a Biggar penalty and a third try through their captain Jones under the posts which Biggar converted with ease.

But Pat Lam’s side refused to give up and a superb line out drive saw loose head prop Denis Buckley force his way over on the stroke of half time. Nikora added the conversion just before the break to keep his side in the game.

Half time: Ospreys 24 – 15 Connacht

But Connacht’s hope of a retaliation was scuppered when Ospreys centre Beck showed great footwork to dummy and break through the Connacht defence to touch down for the bonus point try. Biggar’s conversion gave Ospreys a 16 point lead and the international out half added another to his tally when prop Nicky Smith got over on the hour mark from a rolling maul.

With 17 minutes left on the clock, London Irish bound flanker Conor Gilsenan worked hard off the maul to get over for Connacht’s third try to bring the score to 38 – 20. Nikora missed the conversion just before he was replaced by Dan Parks who marked his 50th and final cap in a Connacht jersey.

Number 8 Dan Baker picked up the ball from the base of the scrum to crash over for Ospreys’ final try on 68 minutes. Biggar, 100% from the kicking tee tonight, added the final score.

Connacht fought hard for their fourth try at the death but it wasn’t to be as the final whistle signalled the end of the 2013/14 season.

Full time: Ospreys 45 – 20 Connacht

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