Ospreys 25-13 Exeter Chiefs: Biggar’s boot hands Welsh side crucial win
Ospreys came from behind to beat Exeter Chiefs 25-13 in their European Champions Cup opener
Chiefs had led 10-6 at half-time thanks to a try from James Short while Gareth Steenson made up the total with a conversion and penalty
Wales international Dan Biggar’s 18 points made up five penalties and a drop goal put Ospreys ahead in the closing stages
Joshua Matavesi’s late try secured the win for the Welsh provincial side before Biggar’s conversion took the fly-halfs total for the day to 20-points
Dan Biggar kicked 20 points as Ospreys coasted past Exeter Chiefs for an opening-round Champions’ Cup win at the Liberty Stadium.
Biggar fired a warning of things to come with two early penalties, but Gareth Steenson hit back with a three-pointer of his own before James Short scorched his way over for the game’s first try on 32 minutes. Steenson converted for a 10-6 interval lead in favour of the Chiefs.
The hosts came out an improved side in the second half with Biggar adding two more penalties to edge his side ahead before Steenson returned with his second penalty of the evening to put the visitors 13-12 up with an hour played.
Biggar then landed a drop-goal, which was quickly followed by yet another penalty from the Welshman to put Ospreys into a firm lead. Joshua Matavesi’s interception try after 72 minutes then put the result beyond doubt and sent Exeter back to the West Country empty handed.
Exeter were fresh from a stellar start to their Premiership season which included a fine 19-6 win over Leicester last week, but they suffered a slow start in south Wales, a dominant pack effort from the home side laying the platform for Biggar to kick his side into a 6-0 lead after 19 minutes.
But Steenson kept the visitors in the contest, knocking over a three-point reply on 25 minutes.
Visibly buoyed by their first notch on the scoreboard, the Chiefs rumbled ahead just after the half hour as wing man Short showed an impressive mix of pace, agility and composure to steam in down the left edge for his third try in 11 European games.
Fly-half Steenson, who scored all 19 points in Chefs’ win last time out, kept up his 100 per cent record with the boot to hand the visitors a four-point interval lead.
But with coach Steve Tandy’s words still ringing in their ears, Ospreys came out firing in the second period as Biggar chipped away at the deficit to hand his side a two-point lead, kicking two penalties inside nine second-half minutes.
However Exeter, benefiting from two surprise missed penalty attempts by Biggar earlier in the game, edged ahead once more through Steenson’s second three-pointer, but RUCK Man of the Match Biggar struck back three minutes later with a drop goal to put Alun Wyn Jones and co. two ahead once more.
That proved to be the fourth and final time the lead would change hands.
Biggar then kicked his fifth penalty of the day and with Exeter desperate to haul themselves back into contention, Steenson threw a speculative pass in an attempt to wipe out the five-point deficit, but, on 72 minutes, Matavesi read the ball impeccably and raced 70 metres downfield before touching down, despite a desperate chase from Jack Nowell, to dash any hopes of a comeback, before Biggar rounded off the scoring with his only conversion of the match.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ospreys: Dan Biggar
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Dafydd Howells, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Ben John.
Exeter: 15 Jack Nowell, 14 Matt Jess, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Don Armand, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Moray Low, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 Michele Campagnaro.
Date: Sunday, November 15
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Giuseppe Vivarini (Italy), Stefano Roscini (Italy)
TMO: Stefano Pennè (Italy)