With three sides having booked their semi-final place, three teams had it all to play for in Round 4 with one spot still remaining in the knockout stages. Sale Sharks joined Exeter Chiefs and Leicester Tigers as contenders to qualify before the round four games kicked off.
Conditions in Bridgend were atrocious after continual rain since breakfast and the ground staff had been out forking the pitch in an attempt to get the pitch playable. Viliami Fahiki scored the opening try after just two minutes with Joe Ford converting (7-0). The try was the Tongan's first since joining the club in October last year from North Harbour and came after intense early pressure from the Sharks.
Ospreys Fly Half Sam Davies reduced the arrears on 7 minutes with a well struck penalty. A minute later Ospreys took the lead through a try by Fijian winger Aisea Natoga and Davies conversion (7-10)
Fihaki scored his second try of the evening on 12 minutes and Ford's conversion made it (14-10). Davies reduced the arrears to one point with his second penalty of the evening on 20 minutes. The wet conditions were not hampering the teams attempts to attack and Charlie Ingall scored on the half hour. Ford again converted and Sharks led 21-13 looking for a bonus point try but wary that the home side were capable of scoring themselves.
Viliami Fahiki completed an amazing hat trick of tries for himself on 35 minutes and Ford's conversion was on target again as Sharks were building up a healthy lead at (28-13). A lead the Sharks took into the half time break
HT Ospreys 13 Sale Sharks 28
Ospreys came out guns blazing desperate to get a foot hold in the game and after 45 minutes Fijian Natoga scored his second try which Davies converted (28-20).
Young full back Mike Haley hit back for Sharks two minutes later with a great try but sadly Ford's 100% record ended when he missed the conversion (33-20). Ospreys then started using their replacements as they chased the game but went further behind with a Ford penalty on 54 minutes (36-20). On 57 minutes young scrum half Nathan Fowles replaced Will Cliff. Its was Nathan's comeback game having injured his shoulder playing for the Jets in the Autumn.
On the hour Ospreys got right back into the game when No 8 Baker crashed over for a try and Davies' conversion made the score (36-27). On 67 minutes Ospreys clawed their way back to a one score game with a Davies penalty and it set up a pulsating ending (36-30). Sharks were then hampered when Ross Harrison was yellow carded a minutes later, less than 3 minutes after replacing Aston Croall.
Things went from bad to worse as Marc Jones joined Harrison in the sin bin and it was now a 15 v 13 man game.
Sharks held on by their finger nails but conceded a try in the final minute when Notago completed his hat trick and Davies' conversion went over.
Final Score Ospreys 37 Sale Sharks 36
Team……….Mike Haley (off 75mins), Phil MacKenzie, Andy Forsyth (off 57mins), Mark Jennings, Charlie Ingall, Joe Ford, Will Cliff (off 57mins), Aston Croall (off 65mins, on for Fihaki 70-78mins), Dan Baines (off 64mins, on for Haley 75-80mins), Tony Buckley, Jonathan Mills, Tom Holmes, Mark Easter (c), Andrew Hughes (off 65mins), Viliami Fihaki (off 70mins-78mins)
Replacements: Marc Jones (on for Baines 64mins), Ross Harrison (on for Croall 65mins), Vadim Cobilas, James Gaskell, David Seymour (on for Hughes 65mins), Nathan Fowles (on for Cliff 57mins), Nick Macleod, Tom Arscott (on for Forsyth 57mins)
Scoring Sequence (Ospreys first): 0-5, 0-7, 3-7, 8-7, 10-7, 10-12, 10-14, 13-14, 13-19, 13-21, 13-26, 13-28 (Half Time) 18-28, 20-28, 20-33, 20-36, 25-36, 27-36, 30-36, 35-36, 37-36
|Ospreys Score Card|
|Sale Sharks Score Card|