Williams bows out by sealing final win for Ospreys
Leinster 30 Ospreys 31
Monday 28 May 2012
Shane Williams signed off in fairy-tale fashion as his try double helped the Ospreys to edge out Leinster in an epic six-try RaboDirect PRO12 final.
In his last game for the Welsh region, the diminutive winger ducked out of Rob Kearney's challenge to wriggle over in the right corner for a 78th-minute try. The 35-year-old had scored better tries in his regional career but few have been more important. He passed the baton to Dan Biggar, possibly one of Welsh rugby's future stars, to loft over the match-winning kick.
Williams' score made it a one-point game and Biggar showed nerves of steel to land the difficult conversion, etching the Ospreys into the record books as the first team to win four league titles. The late knockout punch left the Dublin crowd stunned as Leinster were on course to complete a famous European and domestic double – a feat not achieved since Wasps did it in 2004.
Joe Schmidt's men had led 17-9 at half-time thanks to tries from Sean Cronin and Isa Nacewa, and another from the Fijian international gave them a 30-21 advantage. However, the Ospreys showed tremendous grit and will to win, as Biggar landed his fourth penalty and then added the extras to Williams's effort to seal a famous comeback win. The defeat is a bitter pill for Leinster to swallow as it is their third straight loss in a league decider, the Ospreys repeating their 2010 victory.
Steve Tandy's side had beaten the Heineken Cup champions twice during the regular season and they twice led through Biggar penalties before Brian O'Driscoll brilliantly drew in two defenders and set hooker Cronin free for a rampaging run to the line for Leinster. Leinster loose head Heinke van der Merwe was sent to the sin bin before half-time and the visitors capitalised 84 seconds into the second half. Joe Bearman's clever offload released centre Ashley Beck for a well-taken seven-pointer. After Sexton had kicked Leinster 23-16 ahead, the Ospreys worked numbers on the left to release Williams for a rare scoring chance and he showed his renowned finishing skills by crashing over past Eoin Reddan.
Leinster seemed to be turning the screw when Nacewa swooped for his second try. But with replacement Kahn Fotuali'i getting Ospreys moving well, Leinster were up against the wall and finally, crucially, cracked.
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