United Rugby Championship: Cornal Hendricks hat-trick dents Ospreys European hopes

Cornal Hendricks powers through Ospreys defence for a Bulls try
Ospreys (10) 31
Try: J Morgan, L Morgan 2, Parry Cons: Anscombe 4 Pens: Anscombe
Bulls (12) 38
Tries: Tambwe, Smith, Moodie, Hendricks 3 Cons: Smith 4

Ospreys will have to wait to see if they achieve Heineken Champions Cup qualification next season after United Rugby Championship defeat to Bulls.

A Cornal Hendricks hat-trick was aided by scores from Madosh Tambwe, Chris Smith and Canan Moodie in the six-try victory.

Two late tries ensured Ospreys finished with a couple of losing bonus points.

Toby Booth’s side will now have to wait to see if Scarlets finish as the top Welsh region when they face Stormers.

Recalled wing Luke Morgan scored two tries with Jac Morgan and Sam Parry adding the other scores and Gareth Anscombe kicking 11 points.

With Ospreys and Scarlets starting the final round of regular league matches on the same amount of points, a bonus-point victory for Ospreys in Swansea would have guaranteed them Champions Cup qualification next season.

It would also have enabled Ospreys to become the URC Welsh shield winners by finishing as the highest region.

That would have been regardless of Scarlets’ result against Stormers the following day.

With Ospreys now claiming two match points, Dwayne Peel’s side need three points to topple their rivals and claim ninth position in the URC table. That means either a win or a draw and scoring four tries.

This was Ospreys’ second home league defeat of the season and allowed Bulls to complete a clean sweep of victories over the four Welsh sides.

The win lifted Bulls to third place in the URC table and the South African side will have to wait to see if they finish in the top four and claim a home play-off quarter-final in Pretoria.

Bulls out of the blocks

The opening Bulls try was too easy for wing Tambwe following a driving lineout as the visiting forwards powered through the Ospreys defence.

Some clever defence from Alun Wyn Jones and Adam Beard set up an attacking Ospreys scrum which was proceeded to be destroyed by the Bulls set-piece.

More Ospreys’ indiscipline invited Bulls into the 22 again with Smith converting his own try.

Ospreys full-back Michael Collins attacks the Bulls defence
Ospreys full-back Michael Collins attacks the Bulls defence

Morgan – controversially left out of Wales’ summer tour squad to South Africa, with coach Wayne Pivac saying he needed to work on his strength and conditioning – engineered a breakdown turnover penalty.

This was a prelude to Gareth Anscombe opening the Ospreys’ account with a long-range penalty.

This was followed by Jac Morgan expertly burrowing his way over as the home side trailed just 12-10 at half-time.

Ospreys made a disastrous start to the second half as Morgan Morris missed a tackle on Hendricks with full-back Moodie the beneficiary as he cantered over.

Hendricks switched from creator to scorer as he sliced through the Ospreys defence for the bonus-point try.

Ospreys responded with a flowing attacking move that finished with Luke Morgan expertly latching onto a clever Anscombe cross kick.

Any hint of a comeback disappeared when the outstanding Hendricks again tormented the Ospreys defence for his second try with a cleverly crafted angle.

His hat-trick score soon followed after Moodie counter-attacked and fed Hendricks who squeezed his way into the right-hand corner despite an excellent defensive effort from Luke Morgan.

Beard thought he had claimed Ospreys’ third try as the home side chased losing bonus points but the official deemed the Wales lock to have been held up over the Bulls line.

The television match official Jon Mason was again called upon with replacement hooker Parry claiming a try after cheekily touching down the ball over the Bulls line. This time the officials agreed and Anscombe converted.

Remarkably, Ospreys claimed a fourth try when Luke Morgan intercepted to ensure the home side claimed two attacking losing bonus points.

One point was for the fourth try and the other for finishing within seven points of Bulls.

Ospreys had a dilemma of whether to go for the draw and claim an extra match point but decided not to try and add to their tally.

Ospreys: Michael Collins; Luke Morgan, George North, Owen Watkin, Keelan Giles; Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Webb (capt); Gareth Thomas, Dewi Lake, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Will Griffiths, Jac Morgan, Morgan Morris.

Replacements: Sam Parry, Nicky Smith, Tom Botha, Bradley Davies, Dan Lydiate, Harri Morgan, Stephen Myler, Mat Protheroe

Bulls: Canan Moodie; David Kriel, Cornal Hendricks, Harold Vorster, Madosh Tambwe; Chris Smith, Zak Burger; Gerhard Steenekamp, Johan Grobbelaar, Mornay Smith, Walt Steenkamp, Ruan Nortje, Marcell Coetzee (capt), Cyle Brink, Elrigh Louw.

Replacements: Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Robert Hunt, Janko Swanepoel, Arno Botha, Embrose Papier, Juan Mostert, Stedman Gans.

Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU)

Assistant Referees: Ben Whitehouse & Jason Bessant (WRU)

TMO: Jon Mason (WRU)

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