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Ulster fall to PRO14 defeat against lowly Ospreys

It finished 26-24 to the hosts at the Liberty Stadium.

Marcell Coetzee of Ulster is tackled.
Marcell Coetzee of Ulster is tackled.
Image: Alex James/INPHO

Ospreys 26 

Ulster 24 

Alex Bywater reports from Liberty Stadium

ULSTER SUFFERED A  26-24 Guinness PRO14 defeat in a dogfight at the Liberty Stadium as the Welsh side recorded only their second win of the season.

Dan McFarland’s men overturned a 23-10 deficit to lead by a point with 10 minutes to spare, but Luke Price’s late penalty left the visitors the wrong side of the scoreboard.  Visiting tries came from Robert Baloucoune, Matt Faddes and Stuart McCloskey, but it was not enough as Scott Otten grabbed a brace for the Ospreys.

Ulster fell behind to an early Price penalty with driving rain and a swirling wind making for awful conditions. Scrum-half David Shanahan’s attempted box kick was charged down by Adam Beard and from there the Ospreys kicked a penalty. Ulster soon hit back with a fine try.

It was all made by McCloskey who bumped off Simon Gardiner and Aled Davies and offloaded to Baloucoune who was left with an easy finish. Billy Burns added the conversion.

After that, Ulster struggled with the frustration of Dan McFarland and Dwayne Peel obvious high in the Liberty Stadium stands. Davies made amends with a flat pass to Owen Watkin who ran a lovely line to crash over between the posts. Price converted and then watched his forwards get to work.

The Ospreys turned down a penalty in favour of the corner and drove over the line with Otten credited with the score only after TMO Alan Falzone had taken a look.

Price couldn’t convert but did kick a penalty as the Ospreys against the odds took control.
Burns did respond with a kick just before the break as Ulster pushed hard, but they were held back by some impressive home defence as the Ospreys led 18-10 at the break.

Ulster swapped both of their props at the break as Jack McGrath and Tom O’Toole appeared off the bench. They immediately helped win a penalty at the foot of their own posts, but still it was the Ospreys forwards who were doing the business. Otten – again – was he man driven over from another pack surge. Price’s touchline conversion just fell short on the wind.

Ulster unloaded their bench as Jordi Murphy and Bill Johnston also entered the fray and it was the Irish raiders who were now on the comeback trail. Constant Ulster possession ended in a huge overlap with Faddes dummying and going over with Baloucoune free outside him.

Johnston – who had replaced Burns – converted and his team were now dominant.
The Ospreys just couldn’t keep hold of the ball. Johnston’s superb cross kick found McCloskey in oceans of space and he scored in the left corner. Johnston nailed the extra two from wide out.

It put Ulster into the narrowest of leads, but there was still time for Price to win it at the death after the visitors were penalised for not rolling away.

Johnston dropped for a winning goal in the final minute, but his effort was charged down by Davies as the Ospreys celebrated a rare success.

Scorers for Ospreys:

Tries: Watkin, Otten 2; Conversion: Price; Penalties: Price 3

Scorers for Ulster 

Tries: Baloucoune, Faddes, McCloskey; Conversions: Burns, Johnston 2; Penalty: Burns

OSPREYS: C Evans; Dirksen, Watkin, Williams (Thomas-Wheeler 64), Morgan; Price, A Davies; Smith (Thomas 61), Otten (Parry 61), Gardiner (Gajion 76), B Davies (Ashley 80), Beard, Lydiate (capt), Cracknell, G Evans (Cross 76)

ULSTER: Faddes (Gilroy 61); Baloucoune, Marshall, McCloskey, Ludik; Burns (Johnston 58), Shanahan; O’Sullivan (McGrath 40), McBurney (Andrew 51), Moore (O’Toole 40), A O’Connor (capt), Treadwell (D O’Connor 51), Rea (Murphy 51), Reidy, Coetzee

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