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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 February 2007, 19:13 GMT
Ospreys 31-10 Connacht
Ospreys full-back Lee Byrne showed he was back to full fitness
Ospreys full-back Lee Byrne showed he was back to full fitness

Ospreys 31 (8)
Tries: Byrne, James, Penalty try.
Cons: Byrne 2.
Pens: Connor, Byrne 2.
DG: S Williams.

Connacht 10 (10)
Tries: Slemen.
Cons: Warwick.
Pens: Warwick.

Lee Byrne gave watching Wales coach Gareth Jenkins a boost by providing the highlights of a stuttering Magners League win for Ospreys over Connacht.

The full-back scored a fine try and made a decent show as stand-in kicker when fly-half Shaun Connor was injured.

Connacht led 10-8 at half-time with a try from full-back David Slemen.

But Byrne's boot crept Ospreys in front before Paul James went over and a penalty try followed, with wing Shane Williams also kicking a drop-goal.

Lock Brent Cockbain, the third Osprey on display chasing a return to the Wales side, also showed well with some decent carries and strong defence.

Back-row Jonathan Thomas, who was on the bench in Wales' RBS Six Nations loss in Scotland, also did no harm to his chances of selection for next Saturday's trip to face France.

Connacht should have taken an early lead, but wing Danny Riordan fumbled Paul Warwick's cross-kick with the line at his mercy and then Mark McHugh hit the post with a long kick.

Connor and Warwick exchanged penalties, before the Connacht fly-half jinked his way through an opening to send Slemen under the posts.

Warwick converted the score himself and played his part as Connacht kept their hosts on the back foot for most of the first half.

But Ospreys hit back just before half-time, centre Tal Selley doing well to get his hands free in the tackle and off-load to Byrne who powered his way over for an unconverted try.

Ospreys' Scotland wing Nikki Walker was heavily involved in the move and gave his national coach, Frank Hadden, no reason to fear.

Fly-half Connor had taken a knock in the build-up and was unable to return for the second half, with Jason Spice - usually a scrum-half - filling in at 10 and Byrne taking the kicking duties.

The big full-back's first attempt on 42 minutes sailed wide but he made no mistake six minutes later to put Ospreys back into the lead 11-10.

Warwick had no excuse when he missed a sitter that would have rewarded a good passage of Connacht play.

Byrne was warming to his task and slotted his second penalty kick before the game turned on the sin-binning of Matt Lacey.

Lacey had only just arrived on the pitch to replace Connacht open-side Ray Ofisa, but referee Andy MacPherson's patience had run out with Irish hands straying where they should not have been at rucks.

A short-handed defence allowed Ospreys prop James to chug in under the posts to give Byren a simple conversion.

Wing Williams, who had showed he was over a hip injury with some trademark jinking runs, showed his talent by striking a fine drop-goal between the sticks from 30 metres out.

A penalty try, as Connacht's scrum disintegrated under a determined Ospreys shunt, and a final two points from dead-eye Byrne wrapped up the win.


Ospreys: Lee Byrne; Nikki Walker, Tal Selley, Andrew Bishop, Shane Williams; Shaun Connor, Justin Marshall; Paul James (capt), Huw Bennett, Andrew Millward, Brent Cockbain, Mike Powell, Lee Beach, Richard Pugh, Jonathan Thomas.
Replacements: Barry Williams, Adam Jones for Millward (52), Chris Martenko for Cockbain (79), Jason Spice for Connor (40), Jonathan Vaughton for Powell (79), Stefan Terblanche for Byrne (79), Tom Smith for Pugh (72).

Connacht: D Slemen, D Yapp, J Hearty, M McHugh, D Riordan, P Warwick, C O'Loughlin, R Hogan, J Fogarty (capt), S Knoop, D Gannon, R Strudwick, J Muldoon, R Ofisa, C Rigney.
Replacements: A Flavin for Fogarty (68), B Sturgess for Wilkinson (74), M Swift, M Lacey for Ofisa (47), C Keane for O'Loughlin (68), G Williams for Warwick (68), P Durcan for McHugh (74).

Referee: Andy MacPherson (SRU).

Att: 6,499

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01 May 06 |  Wales


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