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Natoga treble boosts Ospreys’ play-off hunt

Aisea Natoga scored a hat-trick of tries to secure Ospreys a 34-9 bonus-point victory over Cardiff Blues and strengthen their grip on a RaboDirect PRO12 play-off place.

Natoga’s two first-half tries followed the opening score of the night from Ashley Beck and the winger added a third of his own once Rhys Webb had wrapped up the bonus point after the break.

Dan Biggar also kicked nine points while Gareth Davies slotted three penalties for the Blues but they have now lost six straight RaboDirect PRO12 contests against their Welsh rivals.

The victory extended Ospreys’ advantage over Glasgow Warriors in the race for the final play-off spot to eight points – though the Scots now boast three games in hand.

Ospreys bossed the opening exchanges and took a deserved lead when Wales fly-half Biggar and centre Jonathan Spratt combined well and once the ball was worked wide, Beck ran a fine line to cross the whitewash.

Biggar converted to put Ospreys 7-0 up and while Gareth Davies slotted a penalty for Cardiff Blues, Ospreys soon extended their lead.

A grubber kick from Webb was helped on by the boot of Natoga, with the winger winning the race to the loose ball to touch down.

Two Gareth Davies penalties again reduced the score but once more Ospreys hit back to establish a 17-9 lead at half-time.

The home side swept from right to left and Sam Davies showed wonderfully quick hands to move the ball sharply for Natoga to collect and score.

Biggar missed the conversion but Ospreys built on their healthy half-time lead eight minutes into the second period when Webb wriggled his way over for a score.

Biggar added the extras to put Ospreys 24-9 up and the fly-half slotted a further three points to keep the score ticking over on 52 minutes.

Robin Copeland did cross the line for the Blues but the ball had already been lost forward and Ospreys earned the penalty.

And Fijian flyer Natoga secured his hat-trick with a superb piece of finishing as he kept himself in play right in the corner and extended his right arm to dot down.

There was still time for Blues winger Alex Cuthbert to be denied by a superb tap tackle from Joe Bearman before winger Harry Robinson was taken off with a serious looking leg injury to cap a miserable night.

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