Lions 45-15 Ospreys: Toby Booth’s side battled as Welsh areas woes in South Africa continue

The Ospreys were beaten 45-15 by the Lions in Johannesburg on Friday night.

Both sides probed in the early exchanges, but it was the Lions who struck first in the United Rugby Championship clash. Toby Booth’s side were initially let go when Jordan Hendrikse missed a simple penalty, but they soon found themselves under their own posts.

A minute later, impressive Lions skipper Burger Odendaal steamed through a lackluster Ospreys defense before unloading inside Morne van den Berg. He threw a clean pass to winger Sibahle Maxwane, who rounded Josh Thomas in the 11th minute to score the game’s first try. Hendrikse made no mistakes from the tee this time.

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The Welsh side, appearing to struggle with the altitude, were unable to put their hosts under sustained pressure. On the occasions when they were able to generate momentum, they retained their narrow offensive approach, using scrum-half Rhys Webb’s runners instead of looking for space in wider channels.

They fought back through a Josh Thomas penalty around the half hour mark but were unable to build on it. Instead, the Lions brought their dominance home.

The Ospreys looked to be defending relatively comfortably before their hosts pulled away and Odendaal’s cross identified a mismatch before carving out outside hooker Sam Parry. He entered van den Berg, who galloped for his first. Hendrikse’s conversion made it 14-3 at halftime.

The Lions really delivered a hammer blow straight after the break. Maxwane did some real damage with a nearside breakdown, taking the game deep into the Ospreys’ 22.

The South Africans then headed over to their big runners and hammered the line. Although the Ospreys held on for a few phases, a try seemed inevitable and it was flanker Francke Horn who dived before Hendrikse converted.

There was, however, a glimmer of hope for the Welsh side after 10 minutes into the second half. Showing some offensive ambition for the first time, they were able to cause the Lions problems in a move that eventually ended in a precision shot from Webb and the conversion of Thomas.

Five minutes later, however, the Lions hit back with their bonus points try. The Welsh side looked on their feet, grappling with the altitude and the intent with which their hosts were playing. Two offloads cut the Ospreys to pieces and suddenly there were huge gaps all over the pitch. Van den Berg was on hand to receive a scoring pass for his second single qrun-in of the night and Hendrikse added the extras.

Just after the hour mark, Michael Collins scored against the run of play, intercepting a pass to score from 40 yards out. Thomas missed the conversion but that would never have had an impact on the final score and the Lions really went to town in the final 15 minutes.

Substitute Manuel Rass scored the first of three tries in the closing period after more relentless pressure from the hosts. Then speedster Edwill van der Merwe collected the ball and gassed Luke Morgan – something of a rarity – to score his side’s sixth try with ten minutes remaining.

And there was still time for substitute scrum-half Andre Warner to put salt in the wound with a try three minutes from time. Concluding a heavy defeat for the Ospreys.

The Welsh regions are now winless in five games on South African soil this season after Scarlets and Cardiff Rugby lost both games in the last fortnight.

the Lions

Try: Sibahle Maxwane (11), Morne van den Berg (38, 54), Franke Horn (43), Manuel Rass (67), Edwill van der Merwe (70), André Warner (77)

The inconvenients: Jordan Hendrikse (12, 39, 44, 55, 78)

Ospreys

Try: Rhys Webb (49), Michael Collins (63)

The inconvenients: Josh Thomas (50)

Pens: Josh Thomas (30)

Charles P. Patton