Henson continues rich vein of form

Neath-Swan Ospreys 39 Cardiff Blues 3
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Neath-Swansea Ospreys continued their hugely impressive start to the Celtic League with a thunderous victory over rivals Cardiff Blues.

Neath-Swansea Ospreys continued their hugely impressive start to the Celtic League with a thunderous victory over rivals Cardiff Blues.

Following wins over Munster and defending champions Llanelli Scarlets, the Ospreys ran in five tries to nil against the Blues at the Gnoll, inspired by 19 points from the ever-maturing Gavin Henson.

The game was overshadowed, however, by the death of the baby son of the Wales lock Brent Cockbain from a long-term illness the night before. His Ospreys teammates wore black armbands.

Lyndon Bateman took his place in an Ospreys team that took time to get up to speed after thumping wins over Munster and Llanelli Scarlets but who swiftly ran through the gears once they got going.

Henson, benefiting from the extended run of games with a rich vein of form, kicked the opening points before the Ospreys worked a clever overlap for prop Duncan Jones to score on 14 minutes.

After good driving work by the forwards, Jason Spice's pass saw Adrian Durston exploit the advantage out wide before the ball was shipped out to the mop-haired prop who touched down with ease.

Sonny Parker thought he had extended that lead when he burst through two tackles to go over the line only to be hauled back by the Irish referee Donal Courtney for an earlier infringement that was hard to see with the naked eye.

A minute later, Parker again left a trail of destruction in his wake that saw two Blues players leave the field, Rhys Williams giving real cause for concern. The Wales full-back was carried off with his neck in a brace after colliding with team-mate Lee Thomas in tackling Parker.

Ironically, it was Cardiff who were the better for the seven-minute delay as the pack gathered composure to build momentum. Gareth Williams was lively around the field and asked plenty of questions of the home defence.

The Ospreys scrum-half Jason Spice was shown a yellow card after failing to roll away from tackling the Blues hooker who then took Cardiff to the try-line only for the half-time whistle to cut the attack short.

The Ospreys had escaped unpunished from the 10-minute reduction to 14 men and the return of Spice in the second half galvanised an emphatic 40 minutes of rugby.

A neat blind-side move from a line-out close to the Blues line almost saw Shane Williams squeeze over in the corner. But the pint-sized wing demonstrated his full repertoire with a delightful cross-field kick that dropped into the grateful hands of David Bishop while Cardiff's defence dithered.

That was to prove too much for Cardiff who fell apart in the closing stage as Spice and then Parker piled on the misery.

Neath-Swansea Ospreys: A Durston; D Tiueti, S Parker, D Bishop (A Brew, 70), S Williams; G Henson, J Spice; D Jones (P James, 65), B Williams (capt, M Davies, 69), A Jones, L Bateman, A Newman (A Newman, 72), J Thomas, R Jones.

Cardiff Blues: R Williams (N Macleod, 34); J Vaughton, T Shanklin, T Davies, C Morgan; L Thomas, R Smith (D Dewdney, 34-40); G Jenkins (K Fourie, 79), G Williams (A Lewis, 79), M Jones, D Jones, R Sidoli, M Lewis (N Thomas, 40), K Schubert, M Williams (capt).

Referee: D Courtney (Ireland).