Justin Tipuric wipes the floor with Lions in Ospreys’ bonus-point win

Lions fullback Quan Horn completed a strong performance with a try against the Ospreys on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Lions fullback Quan Horn completed a strong performance with a try against the Ospreys on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Mar 30, 2024


The Lions missed out on a great chance to move into the playoff spots as an inspired Ospreys’ efficient approach led to a 36-21 bonus-point victory in Swansea on Saturday.

The Johannesburg side started the match in 10th position on 34 points, but were unable to move up the United Rugby Championship log.

Instead, it was Welsh club Ospreys who slipped into eighth position temporarily above the Lions, Connacht and Ulster with a five-tries-to-three triumph.

Coach Ivan van Rooyen would have been disappointed with the lack of intensity from the Lions pack in particular as they were just a step behind the Ospreys upfront, despite a late flurry that added some respectability to the scoreboard.

It was veteran Welsh openside flank Justin Tipuric who was a menace at the breakdowns as he led an Ospreys onslaught on the ground that snuffed out almost every Lions attack with ball-in-hand.

The home side were first on the scoreboard when tighthead prop Tom Botha – who started his senior career with Western Province in Cape Town – barged his way over after a number of pick and go carries in the fifth minute.

The Lions are renowned for their adventurous spirit, and it resulted in quite a few line-breaks and multi-phase movements into the Ospreys half, with loosehead prop JP Smith, flank Emmanuel Tshituka and No 8 Francke Horn prominent.

They combined well with speedsters such as Edwill van der Merwe and Quan Horn, but almost every time the visitors ventured into the Ospreys half, they would either have the ball stripped in the tackle, knock the ball on or conceded a breakdown turnover or penalty.

It wasn’t long before the Ospreys struck again, and it was the unlikely figure of hooker Sam Parry who got a five-pointer after a superb break by scrumhalf Reuben Morgan-Williams, and the hosts led 12-0 after 18 minutes.

The Lions pack rolled up their sleeves and got close a few times, with hooker PJ Botha going close, but denied just short of the tryline.

The Johannesburg outfit’s growing attack eventually led to a yellow card for Parry for a cynical infringement at a ruck, and even though flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse missed a penalty at goal, their first points arrived just before halftime.

Botha’s busy display was rewarded when he controlled the ball at the back of a maul expertly, and got the ball down to register his team’s first try.

Ospreys No 10 Owen Williams slotted a penalty on the hooter to stretch the lead to 15-7 at halftime, but the Lions would’ve felt that they still had a chance of pulling off a victory.

But they made a poor start to the second half, allowing Ospreys wing Luke Morgan to get within a few metres of the tryline, while the industrious Tipuric grabbed another crucial turnover to halt a Lions attack in the 22.

Then replacement loosehead prop Morgan Naudé was yellow-carded for a dangerous lifting clean-out of Tipuric, and that opened things up for the Ospreys to finish off the Lions.

Another all-encompassing attack ended with No 8 Morgan Morris darting over in the 50th minute, and eight minutes later, reserve hooker Lewis Lloyd secured the four-try bonus point from a maul.

The Lions threatened to launch a late rally as fullback Horn rounded off a Richard Kriel line-break in the 67th minute, but the Ospreys defence stood strong for most of the final quarter.

Kriel produced a stunning finish in the right-hand corner, which Hendrikse converted from the touchline in the 75th minute to keep the Lions interested in getting a losing bonus point.

But it was not to be in the end as Ospreys replacement back Keiran Williams grabbed a fifth try in the final minute.


Ospreys 36 – Tries: Tom Botha, Sam Parry, Morgan Morris, Lewis Lloyd, Keiran Williams. Conversions: Owen Williams (3), Jack Walsh (1). Penalty: Williams (1).

Lions 21 – Tries: PJ Botha, Quan Horn, Richard Kriel. Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (3).