Bowe helps Ospreys win in Leinster's lair

Leinster 12 Ospreys 17
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The Independent Online

The Ospreys became the first team to win a third Magners League title as they ended their losing streak against Leinster at the Royal Dublin Society. In an exciting climax to the league's first play-offs, first-half tries from Tommy Bowe and the man of the match, Lee Byrne, did the damage.

The Ospreys captain, the No 8 Ryan Jones, said: "I'm over the moon. We worked extremely hard and possibly against a lot of people's opinions we've come here and done it and I thought we played well."

It was a frustrating way for Michael Cheika to end his coaching tenure at Leinster – his home side could only muster four penalties from Jonathan Sexton. The Irishman's opposite number, Dan Biggar, converted the two tries for a 14-3 half-time lead and kicked a second-half penalty.

The Ospreys were hoping to end a six-match losing run against Leinster and their coach, Sean Holley, kept faith with the team that beat Glasgow. Leinster made one enforced change to the side that beat Munster, the Springbok prop CJ van der Linde replacing Cian Healy, who had a stomach bug.

The Ospreys enjoyed early pressure, Bowe popping up in a move which saw Biggar dart in under the posts – play, however, was called back for a knock-on. Leinster showed their solidity in the scrum and line-out and a clever attack released Shane Horgan for a one on one with Shane Williams, only for Isa Nacewa to be penalised for a forward pass in the build-up.

Both sides were guilty of poor kicking and the pace was ramped up further as Rob Kearney countered and Williams chased his own kick. Biggar had the first scoring opportunity but he missed a left-sided penalty from just outside the 22. There was a huge cheer as the retiring Leinster lock Malcolm O'Kelly crunched Mike Phillips after a quickly-taken line-out but Leinster were being penalised at the breakdown and the Ospreys soon broke the deadlock.

Within sight of the Leinster 22, a flat pass from Biggar sent Andrew Bishop past Gordon D'Arcy. The centre's pass to the left sent Bowe charging over for a 19th-minute try. Biggar converted but Sexton kicked a penalty from the 10-metre line, following a high tackle by Byrne on his Kearney.

The Ospreys missed a glorious chance when Alun Wyn Jones and Jerry Collins failed to use numbers out wide. There was no such indecision six minutes before the break, as the Ospreys countered from halfway to send in Byrne for a sumptuous score. Biggar floated a long pass out to the right, where Hook took the ball on before popping it inside for his full-back to thunder away from D'Arcy and evade Jamie Heaslip on his way to the line. Biggar's conversion made for a 14-3 lead.

Leinster had lost Kevin McLaughlin (knee) and his replacement, Stephen Keogh (ankle), but they made a positive start to the second half as Sexton kicked a long-range penalty. A Leinster offside, however, let Biggar restore his side's 11-point lead. The Ospreys were content to soak up the pressure, with Hook and Byrne missing drop-goal attempts, before Leinster got into some sort of rhythm on the hour. D'Arcy went on a 30-metre burst before Sexton kicked a third penalty.

Byrne was fortunate to avoid a yellow card as he caught D'Arcy around the neck and Sexton kicked the resulting penalty, but the Ospreys were able to keep Leinster at arm's length and hold on for a first win in Dublin in five years.

Leinster R Kearney; S Horgan; B O'Driscoll, G D'Arcy; I Nacewa; J Sexton, E Reddan; S Wright, J Fogarty, CJ van der Linde (C Healy, 48), N Hines, M O'Kelly, K McLaughlin (S Keogh, 30; T Hogan, 42), J Heaslip, S Jennings (capt; R Strauss, 67).

Ospreys L Byrne; T Bowe, A Bishop, J Hook; S Williams (N Walker, 71); D Biggar, M Phillips; P James, H Bennett, A Jones, A W Jones, J Thomas (I Gough, 62), J Collins, R Jones (capt; F Tiatia, 67), M Holah.

Referee C White (England).