Henson helps Ospreys soar

Ulster 24 - Neath-Swansea Opsreys 37
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The Independent Online

The high-flying Ospreys may have found it difficult to take off against the wind in the first-half, but they scaled the heights after the break as they ran in three tries in the opening nine minutes and notched up 37 points in all. They remain top of the Celtic League table as the only undefeated side, and this win was the first by a Welsh side here for three years.

Having fallen behind by 14 points in the first-half, the visitors made the most of Neil Best's 10-minute trip to the sin bin at the start of the second period. It was a sensational recovery and one in which Gavin Henson once again made his mark.

Though Ulster's David Humphreys had conducted a No 10 masterclass in the first half, the irrepressible Henson embellished his mounting reputation with a fine second-half performance.

Humphreys drew first blood with a neat chip to give his wing Andy Maxwell something to chase. The ball bounced kindly and Maxwell sent his full-back Bryn Cunningham in for a try which Humphreys converted. Twenty minutes later Humphreys sent the No 8 Roger Wilson through to pave the way for Kevin Maggs to score. Humphreys added the conversion.

It took the Ospreys just 30 seconds to punish Best, who went to the bin just before the break, as they spread an Ulster turnover from the restart wide to the Wales wing Shane Williams, who raced past Paul Shields and then stepped inside Cunningham to score.

Six minutes later David Bishop barged his way over and then Barry Williams intercepted on his own 22 to start a brilliant handling move that ended with Dave Tiueti scoring the try. Henson goaled all three to put the Welshmen ahead.

Humphreys conjured up another score for Campbell Feather, and Ireland's record points scorer then added the conversion off the touchline. But Henson used the wind to his advantage to restore the lead for the Ospreys, when he hit the mark from six metres inside his own half. Then the Wales centre Sonny Parker left Cunningham for dead as he raced in for the bonus point try, which Henson converted.

Ulster had a mountain to climb, and reduced the deficit with another Humphreys penalty, but Henson had the final word with another penalty and an injury time drop goal.

Ulster: B Cunningham (P Wallace, 60); T Bowe; Jonny Bell; K Maggs, A Maxwell (T Howe, 44); D Humphreys, N Doak (K Campbell, 51); S Best, P Shields (N Brady, 70), R Moore, M Mustchin (R Frost, 55), M McCullough, A Ward (capt, C Feather, 35), R Wilson, N Best.

Ospreys: A Durston; D Tiueti (R Mustoe, 79), D Bishop, S Parker, S Williams; G Henson, J Spice; P James, B Williams (capt, M Davies, 80), A Jones (A Millward, 65), A Newman (L Tait, 80), L Bateman, A Lloyd, R Jones (J Bater, 41), S Tandy (R Pugh, 65).

Referee: D Changleng (Scotland)