Ospreys come from behind to beat Exeter Chiefs

Dan Lydiate looks set to miss three months of rugby

The Ospreys came from behind to beat Exeter Chiefs 25-13 in their European Rugby Challenge Cup opener at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday evening.

Wales fly-half Dan Biggar kicked 20 points as Fiji international centre Josh Matavesi’s try nine minutes from time set the seal on a crucial Pool 2 victory.

Exeter had been the better side before the break with James Short going over for their only try but they were overrun after half-time.

Wales fly-half Dan Biggar kicked 20 points as Fiji international centre Josh Matavesi’s try nine minutes from time set the seal on a crucial Pool 2 victory.

Exter had been the better side before the break with James Short going over for their only try but they were overrun after half-time.

Biggar scored 20 pointsl from five penalties, a drop goal and converted Josh Matavesi’s try as the Ospreys shook off a difficult start to the Pro 12 season by getting on the board at the first time of asking in Europe.

Exeter had led 10-6 at the break through James Short’s try and five points from the boot of Gareth Steenson, but they could only add a penalty during the second 40 minutes.

The Welsh side, who had won just two of their previous 14 matches in this competition, started positively, forcing errors and penalties out of the visitors.

Biggar kicked two three-point opportunities to give the hosts a 6-0 lead but, after a loose start, Exeter were beginning to find their feet and go through the phases.

The Ospreys survived one prolonged onslaught thanks to a turnover from lock Lloyd Ashley in the shadows of his own posts, although Steenson soon kicked a penalty to trim the deficit.

The Chiefs, with Dave Ewers and Julian Salvi carrying strongly, came again and thought they had a try when Luke Cowan-Dickie spun out of a tackle to reach the line, only for Television Match Official Stefano Penne to find a knock-on.

It proved a brief reprieve for the Ospreys. Will Chudley fielded a an up and under and darted between two defenders to find Short, the winger escaped the clutches of James King and then wrong-footed Biggar to score, with Steenson converting.

The Ospreys responded strongly but Biggar blotted his copybook by missing two penalties in the lead-up to half-time, although he slotted another attempt just after the break to trim the deficit to one.

The Wales number 10 was still not quite in rhythm from the tee and struck the post from close range when Cowan-Dickie was pinged at a ruck, only for the Chiefs hooker to offend again seconds later with Biggar not repeating his mistake.

Steenson responded with a penalty, but the Ospreys pack were beginning to get on top and they laid the platform for Biggar to drop a goal and restore their lead.

Biggar’s fifth penalty pushed the advantage out to five points before Matavesi picked off Steenson’s pass to race in from 60 metres to seal the win and deny Exeter a losing bonus point.

Biggar was named European Rugby Challenge Cup man of the match.

Final Score Ospreys 25 (6) Exeter Chiefs 13 (10)

Scorers

Ospreys
Tries – Matavesi
Pen – Biggar (5)
Con – Biggar
Drop – Biggar

Exeter Chiefs
Tries – Short
Pen – Steenson (2)
Con – Steenson
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy),
Assistant ref: Giuseppe Vivarini (Italy),
Assistant ref: Stefano Roscini (Italy),
TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy),
Citing Commissioner: John Montgomery (Scotland)

Teams

Ospreys: Daniel Evans; Daf Howells, Jonathan Spratt, Josh Matavesi, Eli Walker; Dan Biggar, Brendon Leonard; Paul James, Scott Baldwin, Dmitri Arhip, Lloyd Ashley, Alun-Wyn Jones (c), Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric, James King

Replacements: Sam Parry, Ryan Bevington, Aaron Jarvis, Rory Thornton, Dan Baker, Thomas Habberfield, Sam Davies , Ben John

Exeter Chiefs: Jack Nowell; Matt Jess, Henry Slade, Sam Hill, James Short; Gareth Steenson (c), Will Chudley; Alec Hepburn, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Francis, Mitch Lees, Damian Welch, Dave Ewers, Julian Salvi, Don Armand

Replacements: Jack Yeandle, Carl Rimmer, Moray Low, Ollie Atkins, Tom Johnson, Dave Lewis, Ian Whitten, Michele Campagnaro

With thanks to EPCRugby

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