Ospreys take the derby spoils to secure Champions Cup spot for next season

18 May 2019

The Scarlets were denied a place in next season’s Champions Cup after falling to a 21-10 play-off defeat to the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.

In a tight affair, it was the home side who claimed the spoils to secure their place in Europe’s top tier in 2019-20.

Cheered on by a vocal travelling support, the Scarlets had hoped to give head coach Wayne Pivac and his assistants Stephen Jones and Byron Hayward a winning farewell to their spell at the region.

But it was not to be.

It was the Ospreys who started the stronger and it needed a brilliant try-saving tackle from the outstanding Leigh Halfpenny on flying wing Keelan Giles to prevent an early score.

However, the Ospreys’ pressure was rewarded when the Scarlets defence was stretched by a slick attack and wing George North was put away in the corner after just eight minutes.

Halfpenny responded with a penalty, but the home fans were celebrating a second try when flanker Olly Cracknell burst over at the posts after Dan Evans had countered from a loose clearance.

Sam Davies’ conversion make it 14-3, but the latter part of the half belonged to the Scarlets.

Replacement wing Hanno Dirksen was shown yellow for a challenge on Johnny McNicholl in the air and the Scarlets pounced immediately, making the most of Dirksen’s absence out wide.

It was Hadleigh Parkes’ pass that put McNicholl in space, he beat the challenge of Aled Davies, then found Jonathan Davies on his inside, with the Wales centre riding the tackle of Evans and doing well to touch down.

Halfpenny converted brilliantly from the touchline and the Scarlets were back in the game.

With momentum swinging in their favour, the visitors looked for another score before the half-time whistle, but the Ospreys were able to hold out.

The second period turned into a far edgier affair as tensions rose and tempers flared.

Sam Davies missed a penalty which would have extended his side’s lead, then scuffed a drop-goal attempt shortly after.

With the Ospreys again enjoying the lion’s share of possession and territory, chances were few and far between for the Scarlets.

And when Dirksen dived over 10 minutes from time, a score converted by Luke Price, the Ospreys were on their way to Champions Cup rugby next season.

OSPREYS - tries: G. North, O. Cracknell, H. Dirksen. Cons: S. Davies, L. Price.

SCARLETS - try: Jonathan Davies. Con: L. Halfpenny. Pen: Halfpenny.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)

Attendance: 8,489