Diplomatic Jones calms gouging row

Ospreys 15 Perpignan 9
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The Independent Online

A raft of Wales coaches is expected to be named on Wednesday as assistants to Ian McGeechan for next summer's Lions tour and if the Ospreys' captain, Ryan Jones, is to join them as the on-field captain when that appointment is made in April, he got in some practice in the art of diplomacy here. Jones replied "no comment" three times to the question of whether Perpignan's players had been gouging, even though the big back-rower had twice gestured with his fingers towards his eyes in angry remonstrations with the referee, Wayne Barnes. By clamming up afterwards Jones frustrated quote-hungry journalists but he did the correct thing by his job.

It is up to a Scottish citing commissioner, Dougie Hunter, to take any necessary action – either of his own accord or if Ospreys referred any incidents to him within 24 hours of the final whistle – and the coach Sean Holley's comments about "marks around the eyes of our fellows" indicated something was amiss. Of course, the view down in French Catalonia may be that Holley was happy to divert attention from the failure of Jones and his forwards to deal convincingly with a Perpignan side who had three men – Adrien Plante, Jean-Pierre Perez and Guillaume Vilaceca – sent to the sin-bin, and lost their fly-half, David Mele, injured after 10 minutes.

Wholesale injuries among their backs had prompted Ospreys to bring Gavin Henson back early from his two-match ban for missing training. The Wales centre stayed confined to the dugout apart from the occasional and lightest of muscle stretches.

Much later in the season Ospreys will hope to remember the win achieved through five penalty goals from the 19-year-old Daniel Biggar as four crucial points gained rather than a costly one conceded to Perpignan, whose star No 10 recruit, Dan Carter, arrives in December.

Jones was also non-committal about the spiteful wrangle between the regions and Wales over release of Test players for training before the first autumn international against South Africa on 8 November at the Millennium Stadium, and Holley said it was up to the Ospreys board and the Welsh Rugby Union to sort the mess out.

The WRU feel they have International Rugby Board regulations on their side but the regions wish to put on a good show in the final EDF Energy Cup pool matches the previous weekend. In the meantime Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards, Rob Howley and Craig White – the Wales coaches who delivered a Grand Slam last season – look set for Lions duty, with the full backing of the WRU.

Scorers: Ospreys Penalties Biggar 5. Perpignan: Penalties Porical 3.

Ospreys: L Byrne; S Williams, T Bowe, A Bishop, J Vaughton; D Biggar, R Webb; P James (D Jones, 52), H Bennett (R Hibbard, 71), A Jones, AW Jones (I Gough, 68), I Evans, R Jones (capt; T Smith, 79), M Holah, F Tiatia.

Perpignan: J Porical; A Plante, F Sid, C Manas, J Candelon; D Mele (N Durand, 10), C Cusiter; P Freshwater (K Pulu, 55), M Tincu (G Guirado, 55), N Mas (capt; Freshwater, 65), O Olibeau (B Guiry, 68), R Alvarez Kairelis (G Vilaceca, 55), J-P Perez (V Vaki, 68), G Britz, D Chouly.

Referee: W Barnes (England).

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