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Davies leads Ospreys back to the top of the table

Sam Davies returned to the Ospreys to inspire them to a hard-fought 13-9 Guinness PRO12 win over Edinburgh and move them back to the top of the standings.

Man of the match Davies produced the game’s moment of real magic in wet conditions at Myreside to create Josh Matavesi’s first-half try.

But it was their defence that won them this clash – holding off the hosts who could only manage three Duncan Weir penalties.

Davies kicked two penalties and the extras from Matavesi’s score and they have now only lost one of their last 16 first-team games in all competitions and will await the result of Leinster’s clash to see if they can stay top.

Ospreys have not lost on the road since November while for Edinburgh it was another narrow defeat to a Welsh opposition after last weekend’s disappointment against the Cardiff Blues.

Duncan Hodge’s side have now lost five in a row in the league but they had their chances on a wet and windy Friday night.

The hosts welcomed back Scotland prop Alasdair Dickinson for the first time since Boxing Day while fly-half Weir and lock Grant Gilchrist were both released from Scotland squad duty to start.

Ospreys named six Wales squad members in their 23 – including Davies at fly-half – and the No.10 was involved early and often in miserable conditions north of the border.

With the wind at their backs, the Welsh region kicked a lot in the opening stages, little rugby was on show before Weir’s penalty put the home side in front.

But the Welsh region responded immediately when a high tackle gave Davies a simple slot from in front and after the first quarter it was 3-3.

And then the first half’s one moment of magic arrived as Davies, a replacement for Wales in two of their last three clashes, dummied and skipped through the line before producing a deft back-hand offload to put Matavesi on the cut back under the posts.

It was a sumptuous score on a tough night for running rugby and with the extras the visitors were 10-3 to the good.

And that was how it stayed until the break, although Hodge’s side could and should have done more when Damien Hoyland appeared to have a straight line to the corner but cut back inside and the chance was lot on the verge of the interval.

The hosts started the second half on top, even turning down a kickable penalty to try and turn the screw but handling errors and fine Osprey defence – they have conceded the least points in the Guinness PRO12 – held firm.

The hour mark came and went and still it remained 10-3 –the hosts also losing the unfortunate Dickinson on his comeback game to a serious-looking ankle injury.

But still the hosts kept coming and another penalty was this time taken for goal and Weir slotted over to trim the lead to only four points just after the hour mark.

Davies provided an immediate response however, smashing over a long range effort of his own to open the lead out again to 13-6 with ten minutes left.

There was still time for late drama though on a pitch that held up well considering the weather but by the end was slippery to say the least.

Weir slotted his third penalty with eight minutes left to make it 13-9 and then a Hoyland break had them back on the front foot before an Anton Bresler knock on relieved the pressure.

And in the end the Ospreys – although they nearly made a hash of kicking the ball into touch in the end – held on for a narrow victory.

Guinness PRO12 Final 2017, 27th May, Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
Ticket Information: Fans can still avail of an exclusive number of €35 tickets. Book via www.ticketmaster.ie. Further information: www.pro12rugby.com/final

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