The Ospreys, who consider themselves a smart bet to go a very long way in the Heineken Cup, came badly unstuck in the West Country. They will not understand why or how, having scored two first-half tries through Sonny Parker while restricting Gloucester to the odd open-field burst by the extraordinary Fijian flanker Akapusi Qera. But their control, almost complete for long periods, evaporated at pivotal moments and their hosts pinched the spoils with opportunist efforts from Anthony Allen and James Simpson-Daniel in the second half.
Kingsholm remains an intimidating arena – the Shed, full to overflowing last night, boasts a congregation rather more raucous than the one at the cathedral down the road, as the referee, George Clancy, was reminded – but there is a more spacious feel to the old stadium now the new grandstand is open. As a result, the atmosphere is less claustrophobic.
The Welsh side were not complaining. Quite the opposite. Their early rugby had aggression, direction and confidence and Gloucester struggled to hold them.
It did not help the Cherry and White cause that Ryan Lamb, their button-bright midfield playmaker, was smithereened by Nikki Walker as the Ospreys launched the first attack of the game. By the time the young outside-half regained his faculties, his side were seven points adrift. Mike Tindall should have known better than to fire a head-high pass at Iain Balshaw with dew on the ball, especially as he was barely 25 metres from his own line at the time. Inevitably, the pass ended up in Osprey hands, Walker and James Hook easing Parker's path to the line.
Despite a couple of penalties from Lamb, the visitors continued on their merry way. Jonny Vaughton, in on the wing for the injured Shane Williams, went within a gnat's crotchet of a try in the right corner after Gavin Henson took advantage of a slack Gloucester restart – Balshaw's covering tackle was outstanding – while Hook fluffed a drop-goal attempt and a long-range penalty.
Those near misses were followed by another hit from Parker, who muscled his way over in heavy traffic after Gloucester conceded a free kick at their own line-out.
Gloucester's only area of ascendancy was at the breakdown, where the New Zealanders in the Ospreys back row, Marty Holah and Filo Tiatia, managed to get on Clancy's nerves. The Ospreys conceded another penalty on the floor when Vaughton played the ball after a back-tracking tackle on the dangerous Qera. The wing was sent to the sin bin while Lamb reduced the arrears to three points.
In truth, the West Countrymen did not deserve to be that close, but they took full advantage of their fortune shortly after the break when the Ospreys coughed up the ball at a ruck and Allen, running away from the overlap, ripped into open field with some fancy footwork and hared all the way to the line for a try which was converted by Lamb.
A couple of penalties from Hook threatened to put the Ospreys' world to rights, but again they lost concentration, allowing the impressive Balshaw to field a high ball and free Tindall going right. The centre drew a man before passing to Simpson-Daniel, who had too much gas for Henson, the last remnant of a broken defence. Chris Paterson, a 100 per cent kicker at the World Cup, did the necessary with the conversion and then added a penalty to establish the winning lead.Reuse content