Jimmy Gopperth’s 78th-minute penalty garnered two hard-earned points for Leinster tonight as they drew with the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium…
Matt O'Connor's charges led 6-3 after a tightly-contested first half, with Jimmy Gopperth splitting the posts with two penalties and his opposite number Sam Davies replying in injury-time.
Davies landed a drop goal to bring the Ospreys level before his 54th minute penalty split the sides until Gopperth coolly slotted the equaliser with less than two minutes left on the lock.
The Ospreys were first to threaten in Swansea, hooker Scott Otten bulldozing into the Leinster 22 before Dan Evans' forced pass flew into touch. Leinster established clear dominance in the scrum but struggled to get into scoring range.
A couple of penalties on the right invited Leinster forward, and the second one was smacked through the uprights by out-half Gopperth for the opening score 14 minutes in.
Good work at the breakdown from Josh van der Flier and Rhys Ruddock forced another kickable penalty, eight minutes later, and a crisp strike from Gopperth made it 6-0 to the visitors.
The returning Ruddock was due to start at blindside flanker, but Jack Conan rolled his ankle in the warm-up so Ruddock switched to number 8 and Dominic Ryan came in at blindside.
Side-entry by full-back Evans ruined a promising position for the Ospreys, while pressure in the tackle from Leinster – with Tadhg Furlong, Richardt Strauss and van der Flier all prominent in the contact area – kept the hosts from building momentum.
A half-break from Isaac Boss briefly sparked the Leinster attack into life before the Ospreys ended the first half on the front foot, pressing near the visitors' try-line and earning a penalty which Davies converted.
The Ospreys out-half sent over a levelling drop goal just two minutes after the break, and the home side lifted the tempo during a stop-start third quarter as winger Tom Grabham went close to breaking the try deadlock.
A high tackle by Ruddock on James King saw Davies make it 9-6 and Leinster were thwarted in their attempts to respond, Boss and van der Flier both being hauled down short of the line before hooker Strauss knocked on in contact.
Another knock-on, this time from Dave Kearney, saw man-of-the-match Josh Matavesi embark on an eye-catching midfield run. Again though, defences were on top for most of this dour encounter.
Handling errors and misplaced passes frustrated both sides, but a lovely offload from prop Furlong got Leinster on the move in the closing stages and with Morgan Allen pinged for not releasing Strauss in the 22, Gopperth grasped the opportunity to square things up from the resulting right-sided kick.
Leinster maintained their discipline as they defended a late rally from the home side, doing enough to disrupt and force the conclusion of an ultimately forgettable game.
OSPREYS SCORERS: S. Davies (2 penalties and 1 drop goal)
LEINSTER SCORERS: J. Gopperth (3 penalties)
15. Zane Kirchner
14. Fergus McFadden
13. Ben Te'o
12. Gordon D'Arcy
11. Dave Kearney
10. Jimmy Gopperth
9. Isaac Boss CAPTAIN (Luke McGrath, 68)
1. Michael Bent
2. Richardt Strauss
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Tom Denton (Ben Marshall, 62)
5. Kane Douglas
6. Rhys Ruddock
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Dominic Ryan (Dan Leavy, 68)
REPLACEMENTS NOT USED: Aaron Dundon, Peter Dooley, Royce Burke-Flynn, Noel Reid, Darragh Fanning.
OSPREYS: Dan Evans; Tom Grabham, Jonathan Spratt, Josh Matavesi, Hanno Dirksen; Sam Davies, Martin Roberts; Ryan Bevington, Scott Otten, Dmitri Arhip, Tevita Cavubati, Tyler Ardron (capt), Joe Bearman, James King, Dan Baker.
REPLACEMENTS: Matthew Dwyer, Marc Thomas, Daniel Suter, Rhodri Hughes, Olly Cracknell, Morgan Allen, Tom Habberfield, Richard Fussell.
REFEREE: John Lacey (IRFU); ASSISTANT REFEREES: Craig Evans, Chris Williams (both WRU); CITING COMMISSIONER: Gwyn Bowden (WRU); TMO: Derek Bevan (WRU)