RaboDirect Pro12 - Ospreys stun Leinster for title

Sun, 27 May 16:59:00 2012

Shane Williams signed off in fairytale fashion as his try double helped the Ospreys edge out Leinster 31-30 in an epic six-try RaboDirect PRO12 shootout.

Ashley Beck Ospreys - 0

In his last ever game for the Welsh region, the diminutive winger ducked out of Rob Kearney's challenge to wriggle over in the right corner for a 78th-minute try.

Williams' score made it a one-point game and Dan Biggar showed nerves of steel to land the difficult conversion, etching the Ospreys into the record books as the first team to win four league titles.

The late knockout punch left the RDS crowd stunned as Leinster were on course to complete a famous European and domestic double - a feat not achieved since London Wasps did so back in 2004.

Joe Schmidt's men had led 17-9 at half-time thanks to tries from Sean Cronin and Isa Nacewa, and another from the Fijian international gave them a 30-21 advantage.

However, the Ospreys showed tremendous grit and will to win as Biggar landed his fourth penalty and then added the extras to Williams' effort to seal a famous comeback win.

The defeat is a bitter pill for Leinster to swallow as it is their third straight loss in a league decider, the Ospreys repeating their 2010 victory in Dublin.

Steve Tandy's side had beaten the Heineken Cup champions twice during the regular season and they nipped ahead thanks to a ninth-minute penalty from Biggar.

Leinster were level within two minutes though, Jonathan Sexton delivering a crisp penalty strike to reward the carrying of Gordon D'Arcy and Mike Ross.

Prop Ross injured his left leg at a subsequent scrum - a concern ahead of Ireland's summer tour to New Zealand - and Kiwi Nathan White had to be introduced.

Leinster had the better of the possession in a fiercely contested first quarter, but pressure from the visitors' blitz defence forced a turnover and Andrew Bishop broke downfield.

He linked with Rhys Webb who was hauled down in sight of the posts as Leinster scrambled back, with the Ospreys having to settle for a Biggar three-pointer.

But the Ospreys struggled to use their scrum as a weapon and the Irish province charged back into scoring range, retaining possession through seven phases.

That set up an opportunity on the left for Brian O'Driscoll to brilliantly draw in two defenders and set hooker Cronin free for a rampaging run to the line.

Sexton converted with aplomb, a quality kick which was matched by the in-form Biggar as he topped off a powerful scrum with his third successful penalty.

However, Sexton's pinpoint restart kick was fielded superbly by a leaping Nacewa and the winger burst through for an opportunist try.

That defensive lapse was further punished by Sexton adding the extras from wide out, although the Ospreys quickly got back on the front foot.

There were extraordinary scenes as Leinster were camped close to their own line for eight minutes before half-time, frantically defending scrum after scrum.

They had loosehead Heinke van der Merwe sin-binned for dropping his bind against Adam Jones. But youngster Jack McGrath dug in and eventually, with the Ospreys failing to get the shove on and Jones being singled out, referee Romain Poite awarded a penalty to the hosts.

The Ospreys felt aggrieved and as the players headed for the dressing rooms, there was an altercation between the forwards with Alun-Wyn Jones and Jamie Heaslip having to be separated.

Suitably fired up, the Welshmen had the try they craved just 84 seconds into the second half. Joe Bearman's clever offload released centre Ashley Beck for a well-taken seven-pointer.

Leinster replied almost immediately, Sexton rifling over his second penalty and van der Merwe and Kevin McLaughlin were back on the pitch just moments later.

Ospreys captain Jones infringed at a ruck to allow Sexton to kick Leinster 23-16 ahead and Nacewa then went close on the left after Shane Jennings scooped up a turnover.

In yet another twist, the Ospreys worked numbers on the left to release Williams for a rare scoring chance and he showed his renowned finishing skills by crashing over past Eoin Reddan.

Biggar missed the conversion, leaving Leinster with a two-point buffer, and the league's table-toppers seemed to be turning the screw when Nacewa swooped for his second of this closely-fought final.

A surging maul got Leinster in sight of the whitewash and Nacewa was able to collect Reddan's loose pass and stretch over from close range.

Sexton's conversion completed his 15-point haul and pushed the margin out to nine points with just 16 minutes remaining.

It was an uphill task for the Ospreys but with replacement Kahn Fotuali'i getting them moving well, Leinster were suddenly pinned back and starved of possession.

The defensive workload took its toll on the home side, who had prop White sin-binned for successive scrum infringements. That led to uncontested scrums, and Biggar sent over the resulting penalty to give his team-mates renewed hope.

With their forwards making the hard yards, the Ospreys went for the jugular and as they flooded out to the right, ace poacher Williams had enough of a sniff to go for the kill.

The 35-year-old had scored better tries in his regional career but few have been more important. He passed the baton to Biggar, possibly one of Welsh rugby's future stars, to loft over the match-winning kick.

PA Sport

Comment 31 - 51 of 51

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  1. Great and deserved win by the Ospreys - the best team­ in the Rabodirect and could have been European­ champions. Leinster were destroyed up front and only­ have the ref to thank for not losing by a more­ comfortable margin. They got away with it in Clermont­ but not on sunday.

    From Jonathan, on Tue 29 May 21:12
  2. craig, youe comments are equally as stupid as peters,­ you MUST be the same person!!!!

    From Howard T, on Mon 28 May 22:53
  3. peter you see far more on TV with all the slomo replays­ etc , so now I understand why you saw very little of­ what actually happened, because you were at the­ game!!!! hahahahah...and I suspect heavily influenced­ by a totally biased crowd and copius amounts of­ alcohol, lol craig, are you the same person as peter?­ Y

    From Howard T, on Mon 28 May 22:52
  4. Ospreys won, end of. Now please accept it and move on­ cos your boring me now.

    From DONNA, on Mon 28 May 18:48
  5. Howard i didn't just watch the game,i was at the­ bloody thing and the Ospreys were taking the p**s. If­ the ref really wanted Leinster to win he had an odd way­ of going about it.

    From peter, on Mon 28 May 18:35
  6. the penalty count in favour of the ospreys then showed­ his bias towards leinster? how can u sit there and say­ that a 50-50 call in the scrum deserved a yellow card­ when that thug jones could have done serious damage to­ a player

    From Craig, on Mon 28 May 17:02
  7. post 49 peter, you really are a total knobhead.­ Leinster are the masters of being offside at every­ ruck. In fact if you actually watched the same game­ (which I doubt!!) you will see that Ospreys were in­ fact very disciplined in the last 3 minutes and clearly­ stayed WELL onside, as they knew that Leinster's­ ref Poite needed only the slightest reason to favour­ the home side. And at the end of the first half how­ many penalties and how many yellow cards are necessary­ before a penalty try is awarded??? ANSWER??? really­ doesnt matter how many times Leinster transgressed...as­ Poite totally bottled it and his only way out was to­ give the home side a penalty...hahahaha, it was a total­ joke and even friends of mine who are Leister­ supporters said they were embarrased. So once again­ peter, just saccept it mate, you lost Ospreys won, you­ are a bad loser. END OF!!!!! hahahahahahaha loving life­ yayyyyyyy!!!!

    From Howard T, on Mon 28 May 16:58
  8. Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

    Just to clarify on the booing at the end of the­ match... After we turned the ball over in stoppage­ time we played tight and tried to move up the­ midfield.At EVERY phase there were Osprey players­ offside.The crowd knew it,and Poite knew it but he­ didn't want to award any penalties that could sway­ the game.He bottled it and the crowd were justifiably­ enraged by it.

    From peter, on Mon 28 May 14:14
  9. It's a shame the Welsh couldn't take their own­ advice with regards to moaning about refs.They are­ still complaining about Rolland ffs.

    From peter, on Mon 28 May 13:46
  10. Excellent game and Ospreys showed their mettle when two­ scores adrift. Why can't they play like that­ all the time? Roll on next season.

    From ROBERT, on Mon 28 May 10:06
  11. Let's get positive!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a great way­ for one of Rugby Union's legends to sign off. Nice­ one Shane Williams. Huge talent combined with modesty­ and grace. A great example!

    From Feltorange, on Mon 28 May 9:59
  12. Ospreys were the better side. Leinster scored from­ Osprey mistakes more than creating their own chances.­ That is the 3rd time this season that The Ospreys have­ beaten Leinster (twice in Dublin) so what is the­ complaint? If you can't win a final on your own­ patch with the referee having a "homer" you­ have nothing to complain about. The Birds have come­ good when it was needed winning their last 7 from 7. ­ Leinster have had another great season but do not spoil­ it by whining when beaten by a better side. If the­ Ospreys had cut out the mistakes, it would have been a­ much larger margin. Are these the same moaners who­ cried when Wales beat Ireland at the Aviva a couple of­ months ago? Don't expect to hear our Celtic­ cousins acting this way. Polish the Heineken Cup and­ get over it. Celtic League Champions, Y Gweilch, The­ Ospreys.

    From 1, on Mon 28 May 9:52
  13. what i did notice was the leinster players clapping the­ osprey players at the end ,shame the fans acted like­ football fans, perhaps they should watch football next­ season then they can boo all they like

    From alfa man, on Mon 28 May 8:54
  14. It's a shame that the general modern Irish­ "how dare anyone beat us, and if they do the ref­ is biased and the opposition are cheats" attitude­ is prevailing more and more. No Irish team has ever­ benefitted from a dodgy decision. They always always­ confess to the ref when they have overstepped the mark.­ I've lost count of the number of times the Irish­ have refused a penalty they didn't deserve.

    From Feltorange, on Mon 28 May 8:25
  15. Good game from both teams who wanted to play rugby on a­ nice sunny day but some one should have told the ref he­ was very poor well done the Ospreys

    From alan, on Mon 28 May 8:16
  16. It was a great game played by two great sides, the­ celtic nations are champions of europe and 6 nations­ champions, i remember not long ago the english and­ french were talking about a two tear championship while­ they go and play southern hem sides, funny how things­ turn around.. leinster on thier day are the best side­ in europe, thats coming from a welshman..

    From laurie, on Mon 28 May 7:10
  17. biggar a future Welsh star...hmmm...doubt­ it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    From Graham, on Mon 28 May 6:15
  18. Please stop crying pikey people

    From DONNA, on Mon 28 May 0:32
  19. Its a shame to see that some Irish supporters are like­ some English supporters, very sad.

    From DONNA, on Mon 28 May 0:27
  20. It was good to see a decent game of rugby because i­ turned off the circus type boring game that was England­ v Barbarians...................YAWN.

    From DONNA, on Mon 28 May 0:25
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