LEINSTER WERE 25-19 losers against the Ospreys in their RaboDirect Pro12 clash at Liberty Stadium this evening.
A frustrating refereeing performance from Marius Mitrea negated many of the most promising passages from both sides, although the game did open up in the second half after a stuttering first 40 minutes.
With the breakdown a danger zone, the fixture was largely decided by penalties, as Biggar’s haul of five proved crucial in helping the Ospreys to success. His 77th minute strike, following a composed drop goal, sealed the win for the Welsh region.
Cian Healy was a notable leader for Matt O’Connor’s side as he carried aggressively, but the combination of inaccuracies in attack and the struggle to get to grips with what Mitrea wanted in terms of discipline meant they scored just one try.
That came at the back of a maul just before half time, drawing Leinster back to a 13-10 deficit at the break. Jimmy Gopperth’s early penalty, as well as the conversion of Healy’s try were the only other scores O’Connor’s side managed in that first period.
The initial three points were hard-earned as Leinster enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening exchanges, carrying strongly around the fringes of rucks through the likes of Jamie Heaslip.
Two Biggar penalties allowed the Ospreys into a 6-3 lead as the first quarter elapsed, before the home team began to dominate territory.
That patch of strong play from the Ospreys finally told in the 33rd minute, with a try stemming from a typically poor exit kick by Leinster out of their own 22. Jeff Hassler started and finished the attacking passage for the Ospreys, dotting down wide on the right.
With Biggar nailing the touchline conversion, Matt O’Connor’s men found themselves 13-3 down. That sparked the Irish province into life and their renewed focus resulted in Healy touching down at the back of a strong maul.
However, two penalties from Biggar after the break – the second of which was harshly awarded against Shane Jennings for not rolling away when it appeared impossible to do so – saw the Ospreys stretch out to nine-point lead.
Leinster again burst into gear in an attacking sense, and their spell of territorial advantage allowed Gopperth to knock over three consecutive penalties and bring the game back to 19-19.
Within that 10-minute period of sustained pressure, Dave Kearney knocked-on with the tryline at his mercy, which would prove costly in the endgame.
However, discipline issues continued and Biggar was on hand to punish the infringements in the late stages. Breaks from Noel Reid and Healy failed to bring the try that Leinster needed, as they slipped to their fourth league defeat of the season.
Tries: J Hassler
Conversions: D Biggar
Penalties: D Biggar (5)
Drop goal: D Biggar
Tries: C Healy
Conversions: J Gopperth
Penalties: J Gopperth (4)
OSPREYS: Richard Fussell; Jeff Hassler, Jonathan Spratt, Ashley Beck, Aisea Natoga (Hanno Dirksen); Dan Biggar, Tom Habberfield; Duncan Jones (Nicky Smith), Scott Baldwin, Aaron Jarvis (Adam Jones); Ryan Jones, Alun-Wyn Jones (capt.); Joe Bearman (James King), Justin Tipuric, Dan Baker (Morgan Allen).
Replacements not used: Scott Otten, Tito Tebaldi, Sam Davies.
LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Zane Kirchner, Gordon D’Arcy (Collie O’Shea), Noel Reid, Dave Kearney (Darragh Fanning); Jimmy Gopperth, Isaac Boss (Luke McGrath); Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Martin Moore (Mike Ross); Leo Cullen (capt.) (Mike McCarthy), Devin Toner; Kevin McLaughlin (Jordi Murphy), Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements not used: Aaron Dundon, Michael Bent.
Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR).