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Sun 12 Dec 1:00pm Swansea.com Stadium Attendance: 0
Ospreys vs Sale Sharks
Sale overcame a second-half Ospreys fightback to claim victory in the Heineken Champions Cup opening round in Swansea.
Tries from Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Ewan Ashman and Jean-Luc du Preez gave Sale a 21-3 half-time lead.
Ospreys responded with a Luke Morgan try as Lood de Jager and Ben Curry were shown yellow cards.
Sale secured victory despite not scoring any second-half points, with flanker Tom Curry proving outstanding.
The defeat came at the end of a difficult week for Ospreys after hooker Ifan Phillips suffered life-changing injuries in a motorcycle collision which has cut short his career.
Ospreys players warmed up with the number 2 and Phillips written on their training jerseys to recognise their team-mate.
The hosts welcomed back Adam Beard, Gareth Anscombe and Mat Protheroe from the side that beat Ulster but flanker Jac Morgan was a late withdrawal.
Sale named three sets of siblings in their matchday squad. Identical twins Jean-Luc and Daniel du Preez and Tom and Ben Curry were named together in the pack, while Sam James and Luke James provided back-line cover on the bench.
It was another Sale back, centre Van Rensburg, who opened the scoring after powering through some poor attempted tackling from Ospreys’ Michael Collins and Owen Watkin.
A searing Mat Protheroe counter-attack lifted the home side before Anscombe kicked the opening Ospreys points.
Sale responded with a second try from hooker Ashman following a driving lineout. The visitors’ pressure was incessant and second-row Du Preez powered over for a further score.
Ospreys’ attempts to batter down the Sale defence with their own driving maul proved futile as they were continually repelled with some ease.
This was despite the visitors losing South Africa lock De Jager to a yellow card for persistent offending as Sale led 21-3 at half-time.
Ospreys returned in the second half with Josh Thomas on for Anscombe, who failed a head injury assessment after taking a heavy hit in a tackle from Tom Curry at the end of the first period.
Protheroe again proved the Ospreys’ main attacking outlet with another searing break but he could not then gather a loose return pass from Rhys Webb with the Sale line begging.
Ospreys finally scored with a well-worked scrum set-piece move, with a superb Webb long pass finding Morgan who cantered in unopposed and Thomas converted from the touchline.
Ospreys lost another Wales international back in wing Alex Cuthbert to injury, which prompted a reshuffle with Collins switching from centre to full-back, Protheroe to wing and Tiaan Thomas Wheeler coming into midfield.
Sale continued to infringe with the home side initially maintaining the fruitless policy of trying driving lineouts rather than kicking at goal.
That tactic briefly relented when the increasingly dominant Ospreys scrum yielded another penalty which Thomas slotted over.
Sale’s persistent offending resulted in another yellow card with Ben Curry sent to the sin-bin, while his brother Tom came off with a back injury.
Again Ospreys opted to ignore the three-point option and Sale cleared their lines.
England scrum-half Raffi Quirke almost claimed a bonus-point try but was deemed to have knocked the ball on over the Ospreys line, although it had no impact on the outcome of the game.
Ospreys travel to face Racing 92 next weekend while Sale host Clermont.