Ulster had travelled to Swansea knowing that only a win would keep any small glimmer of hope alive in this season's Heineken Cup campaign but after just four minutes of play Ospreys centre Sonny Parker slid over the whitewash for the first try of the evening, taking the pass from full-back Lee Byrne.
The Ospreys kept up the attack and a second score looked a certainty when winger Shane Williams made a jinky break, scything right up the centre of the pitch before being finally tackled just short of the line by Bryn Cunningham, making his return to the Ulster starting XV.
A penalty from James Hook kept the scoreboard ticking over and then Justin Marshall added another 5 points for a try approaching the end of the first quarter with Hook maximising the points with a successful conversion <!--[endif]-->
Ulster began the fight-back with a penalty from the boot of Paddy Wallace to put their first points onto the board but shortly afterwards the small but noisy group of Ulster fans in the stand had their hearts in their mouths when Rory Best's long throw-in to the line-out in Ulster's 22 missed the target of Matt McCullough right at the tail - only the Ospreys passing let the visitors off the hook.
Half-time Score: Ospreys 15 - 3 Ulster
The Ospreys started the second half much as they did the first with two quick tries. The first for second row Alun-Wyn Jones in acres of space at the top left-hand corner of the pitch. With men over had he required them, Ospreys captain and No.8 Filo Tiatia strolled over the line just a few minutes later bagging the bonus point for his side's fourth try of the evening. Hook converted both efforts to push to Ospreys 29-3 ahead.
Ulster's scrum-half Isaac Boss momentarily lifted his team's and their supporters spirits when he sniped in under the posts on the 53 minute mark and Paddy Wallace's conversion put the visitors score into double figures. However the Ospreys further tightened their stranglehold on the game when their Scottish winger Nikki Walker cruised over the try-line and Hook converted. Ospreys 36 - 10 Ulster.
Ulster rallied briefly with around 10 minutes to go and from a scrum deep in the Ospreys' 22 winger Simon Danielli found some space after a pass from scrum-half Isaac Boss and touched down under the posts with Wallace adding the conversion. Ospreys 36 - 17 Ulster
However the Ospreys inflicted further misery, late tries for full back Lee Byrne and a second for Walker in injury time rounding off a thoroughly miserable evening for Ulster in Wales
Final Score: Ospreys 48 - 17
After the match acting Ulster coach Steve Williams said; "It was very disappointing, we were out-gunned and out-powered tonight".
"We were naive at times and allowed the game to become disjointed and unstructured which was always going to suit them (the Ospreys)"
"I know what it means to these boys to be playing for Ulster, there's no lack of effort out there"
"We have to dust ourselves off, we need to learn the lessons from this..we have a lot of faults in our game at the moment and we've got to graft our way out of this situation"
On the Ospreys chances of progressing from the pool Williams said; "They've got the personnel to go a long way in this competition"
Ulster's try scorer Isaac Boss said post-match; "Our defence let us down tonight and we allowed them to get too much of the football"
Ulster face the Ospreys again in a week's time but this time will be on their home turf; "In a way it's maybe fortunate that we're playing the Ospreys so soon again, with the game next week we have a chance to try to redeem ourselves" said Boss
OSPREYS: Lee Byrne; 14 - Nikki Walker; 13 - Mark Taylor; 12 - Sonny Parker; 11 - Shane Williams; 10 - James Hook; 9 - Justin Marshall; 1 - Duncan Jones; 2 - Huw Bennett; 3 - Adam Jones; 4 - Alun-Wyn Jones; 5 -Ian Evans; 6 - Jonathan Thomas; 7 - Marty Holah; 8 - Filo Tiatia (Capt)
Replacements: 16 - Richard Hibbard; 17 - Cai Griffiths; 18 - Ian Gough; 19 - Ben Lewis; 20 - Mike Phillips; 21 - Shaun Connor; 22 - Andrew Bishop
ULSTER: 15 - Bryn Cunningham; 14 - Tommy Bowe; 13 - Andrew Trimble; 12 - Paul Steinmetz (rep Rob Dewey 60 mins); 10 - Paddy Wallace (Niall O'Connor); 9 - Isaac Boss (rep Kieran Campbell); 1 - Justin Fitzpatrick (rep Declan Fitzpatrick); 2 - Rory Best (Capt - rep Matt Miles); 3 - Bryan Young; 4 - Justin Harrison (rep Ryan Caldwell 60 mins); 5 - Carlo del Fava; 6 - Neil Best; 7 - David Pollock; 8 - Matt McCullough
Replacements: 16 - Matt Miles; 17 - Declan Fitzpatrick; 18 - Ryan Caldwell; 19 - Kieron Dawson; 20 - Kieran Campbell; 21 - Niall O'Connor; 22 - Rob Dewey
|Ospreys Score Card|
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|Ulster Rugby Score Card|