Ulster started brightly and managed to force the Ospreys into conceding an early penalty, which Ian Humphreys stepped up to convert. Moments later Humphreys extended Ulster's lead to 6 points after the Ospreys were penalised once more.
Ulster continued to pressurise and managed to force the Ospreys into spilling the ball in their own half. Ian Humphreys took advantage by hacking on the loose ball but was taken out as he was about to score. After consulting with the touch judge the referee awarded a penalty try. Humphreys dusted himself off and was left with the simple task of converting from straight in front of the posts. That left Ulster with a 13-0 lead after just 15 minutes.
The Ospreys began to apply more pressure and after Ulster were penalised at scrum time Dan Biggar stepped up to register Ospreys first points. As the game entered the 2nd quarter the influential Ian Humphreys had to leave the field after a shoulder injury. This led to the introduction of Paul Marshall at scrum half, with Ruan Pienaar moving to the flyhalf position.
The Ospreys started to gain more posession and after strong running by Jerry Collins and Huw Bennet they were rewarded with a penalty. They declined the opportunity of three points and instead kicked to the corner, leaving them with a lineout inside Ulster's 22. Despite some solid defence in midfield, the Ospreys attacked blind and Ashley Beck's long miss pass found Marty Holah who crashed over in the corner.
Biggar missed the conversion but slotted a penalty to reduce the arrears further. Ulster then fought back and had a considerable amount of posession before half time. After a number of phases Ruan Pienaar spotted Craig Gilroy out wide but his cross field kick attempt was too long.
The Ospreys lauched another attack and Tim Barker was penalised and sin binned for a trip on Rhys Webb on the halfway line. This gave Dan Biggar the opportunity to slot over his third penalty and push the Ospreys ahead 14-13 at the break.
Despite Ulster being a man short, they started the second half well and were rewarded with two Ruan Pienaar penalties, pushing Ulster in front once more.
Dan Biggar replicated Pienaar's feat, notching two penalties after Ulster were penalised for offside and then hands in the ruck. A further penalty, this time from a scrum, allowed Biggar to extend the lead to 23-19. This brought Biggar's personal tally to 18 points for the night and at this stage the game began to swing in the Ospreys favour.
Ulster then managed to gain decent field position and a Ruan Pienaar penalty reduced the deficit to just one point. The Ulstermen had a few opportunities to press for the win late on but were held at bay by solid defending from the Ospreys.
This was a blow for Ulster's hopes of making the top four but they have a chance to bounce back quickly as they travel to the Scarlets on Friday evening. Brian McLauglin will be looking for an improved performance and he will be disappointed that his side threw away a 13-0 lead. Aside from that he will be praying that the shoulder injury sustained by Ian Humphreys is not as serious as first thought.
|Ospreys Score Card|
|Ulster Rugby Score Card|