Before the game even began there was a late change for the Ospreys as they brought skipper Alun-Wyn Jones in for Lloyd Peers, who was reported to have a hamstring injury.
The Dragons had the upper hand in the early stages of the game, retaining possession well and getting good field position. A penalty from Tovey rewarded the Dragons following a great scrummaging effort much to the delight of the raucous home crowd. As the half progressed though things slowed down to the more tight knit, traditional derby day style game you’d expect between the fierce rivals.
Scrummaging was the first focal point of the game with referee, Nigel Owens, becoming more and more frustrated with the opposing front rows. An extended period of reset scrums was the final straw for the referee as he reached to his pocket to show the yellow card to the Ospreys’ Nicky Smith and the Dragons’ Lloyd Fairbrother.
With both teams down to 14 the game began to open up again to the Ospreys benefit with real pressure being put on the Dragons in the 22m. This ended with a penalty converted by Biggar after Ian Gough was penalised for foul play following review from the TMO.
The game continued to test both sides and continued to excite the crowd with its lively atmosphere. As the time ticked towards the 40 minute marker it was the Ospreys who found some space and got through the Dragons defence. A delightful chip from scrumhalf Webb after a snipe down the Dragons blind side gave Man of the Match, Walker, an easy run in for the first try of the night; Biggar adding the extras from the touch line.
Half Time: Newport Gwent Dragons 3 – Ospreys 10
The second half began with a sterling effort from the Dragons pack, as they were awarded a penalty from a perfectly handled scrum. It was Angus O’Brien who expertly dissected the posts to claim the first points of the second period, after he replaced Tovey at half time.
The Ospreys ultimately had the better start to the second half with the visiting team successfully managing to find space in the home team defence. With the Dragons stretched, it was Webb again with the spark to break through the defence from 5 metres out following a dummy at the base of the ruck. Wales Fly half, Biggar, easily converting from in front of the posts.
The teenager O’Brien, who was enjoying his first appearance in the PRO12, continually attacked the gain line and brought the young and exciting Dragons back line into play. He was rewarded with another chance to add points to the board as the Ospreys gave a penalty away in front of the posts; with the kick successful the scoreboard moved up to 9-17.
With just 10 minutes to go the Dragons were awarded with another penalty after Walker clashed with Tyler Morgan in the air and brought him down hard to the ground. Taking advantage of a break in play whilst the centre was being treated on the pitch, Nigel Owens referred to the TMO to get a better view of the incident and decided that the action deserved a yellow, meaning Walker would see out the rest of the game from the bench. O’Brien was up again to take the kick making it three from three to leave the Dragons trailing by just five points.
The Dragons were the team on top and in control when once again the Ospreys were penalised and the Dragons fly-half was called upon to narrow the lead. He made no mistake and slotted over his fourth penalty of the game, this time from 47 metres out leaving just two points in it with just under five minutes to go.
The crowd were at fever pitch now with the Dragons making ground in the Ospreys half setting up camp on the 22m. O’Brien dropped into the pocket to line up the long range Drop goal, the ball was delayed coming from the ruck and O’Brien was put under real pressure by the Ospreys defence. The ball was struck as sweet as you like but ended drifting agonisingly wide to the left.
With the Ospreys regaining possession and clinging on to the game time was not on the Dragons side, the visiting team ran the clock down with a scrum before Biggar booted the ball off the park to bring the curtain down on a tense night at Rodney Parade.
Ospreys Team: Dan Evans, Jeff Hassler, Andrew Bishop, Josh Matevesi, Eli Walker, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Nicky Smith, Scott Baldwin, Aaron Jarvis, Alyn Wyn Jones ©, Rynier Bernardo, Joe Bearman, James King, Dan Baker.
Replacements: Sam Parry, Duncan Jones, Daniel Suter, Tyler Ardron, Morgan Allen, Martin Roberts, Sam Davies, Hanno Dirksen.
Newport Gwent Dragons Team: Lee Byrne (c), Hallam Amos, Tyler Morgan, Jack Dixon, Aled Brew, Jason Tovey, Jonathan Evans; Boris Stankovich, Elliot Dee, Lloyd Fairbrother, Ian Gough, Rynard Landman, Lewis Evans, Nic Cudd, Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements T. Rhys Thomas, Owen Evans, Dan Way, Andrew Coombs, Andy Powell, Richie Rees, Angus O’Brien, Tom Prydie.
Man of the Match: Eli Walker (Ospreys)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)