Dan Edwards celebrates his winning drop goal. Ashley Crowden/INPHO
Match Report

Ulster stunned at the death by 80th-minute Ospreys drop goal

Dan McFarland’s side lost both Marty Moore and skipper Iain Henderson to first-half injuries.

United Rugby Championship / YouTube

Ospreys 19

Ulster 17

ULSTER HAD VICTORY snatched away from them in the most dramatic style as Dan Edwards dropped a 30-metre goal in the 80th minute to finally secure a home victory after a sixth change of lead.

Moments earlier, it had looked as though Jake Flannery had made himself Ulster’s saviour as he landed a monster 51-metre penalty to edge the visitors ahead at 17-16 with five minutes to play.

But the Ospreys weren’t done with and after Alex Cuthbert had tipped Jacob Stockdale into touch on the Ulster 22 to claim a home lineout, they had one final shot at glory.

Kieran Williams ran into midfield off the lineout take, Edwards dropped into the pocket, and over went the kick that pushed the Welsh region up into seventh place ahead of Ulster.

To make matters worse for Dan McFarland’s team they lost both tighthead prop Marty Moore and skipper Iain Henderson to first-half injuries and missed out on a golden chance to move up into fourth place in the table.

By far and away the best of the four Welsh regions, the Ospreys made it five wins in a row in all competitions as they made Ulster pay for a string of unforced errors and conceding 11 penalties.

Where Munster and Connacht had already come away with victories on Welsh soil earlier this weekend, Ulster fell at what is traditionally one of their toughest venues to visit. They had won 19 of their last 21 URC games against Welsh opposition, with both of the losses coming in away games against the Ospreys.

It was player of the match Edwards, who earlier in the week had signed a new contract, who opened the scoring after 29 minutes, but the tough defensive action kept Ulster in a game in which they struggled at scrum time throughout the first half.

They almost scored on their first foray into the home 22, when a cross-field kick by Nathan Doak from a penalty 10 metres out was knocked on as Stockdale attempted to touch down. If that was a let-off for the Ospreys, they conceded when Ulster made their next trip into enemy terriotory.

Back-to-back penalties allowed Flannery to kick his side to within five metres and Marcus Rea barged his way over for a try that Doak converted. Edwards replied with a second penalty and there eas only a point between the two sides at the break.

The Ospreys went down to 13 men for a period in the second half after two TMO interventions led to number eight Morgan Morse and lock James Ratti seeing yellow. In between, Edwards landed his third penalty to make it 9-7 to the home side.

Moments after Ratti’s departure, Tom Stewart burrowed his way over from another short-range lineout and Doak’s last action before he left was to land a touchline conversion to edge his side ahead 14-9 on the hour mark.

Luke Marshall then saw yellow for an offside decision, but Ulster held firm in defence as the Ospreys kicked to the corner. They also went from 22 to 22 to get into a great attacking position, yet failed to convert.

Instead, what could have been a scoring pass to Stockdale was intercepted and three passes later, Kieran Williams was touching down at the other end for a try that Edwards improved to make it 16-14 in the 65th minute.

It was tense, it was tight and looked like gong the way of the home side until a no arms tackle on half-way allowed Flannery to step up and shoot for glory. He hit the mark – but then Edwards trumped him five minutes later to steal the day.

Scorers for Ospreys:

  • Try: K Williams
  • Conversion: D Edwards
  • Penalties: D Edwards 3
  • Drop goal: D Edwards

Scorers for Ulster:

  • Tries: M Rea, T Stewart
  • Conversions: N Doak 2
  • Penalty: J Flannery.

OSPREYS: J Walsh; M Protheroe (A Cuthbert 67), E Boshoff, K Williams, K Giles; D Edwards, R Morgan-Williams; N Smith (R Henry), S Parry (L Lloyd), T Botha (B Warren), J Ratti, V Sekekete (W Hickey), H Deaves, J Tipuric (captain), M Morse.

ULSTER: W Addison; M Lowry, J Hume, J Postlethwaite (L Marshall 59), J Stockdale; J Flannery, N Doak (D Shanahan 59); A Warwick (S Kitshoff 53), J Andrew (T Stewart 48), M Moore (S Wilson 26), H Sheridan, I Henderson (captain, C Izuchukwu 30), D McCann, Marcus Rea (Matty Rea 71), N Timoney.

Referee: F Vedovelli (Italy)

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